Outlook still sunny
TASMANIAN farmer confidence has recovered from a four-year low with last week’s rain likely to lift it further.
The latest Rabobank quarterly survey shows a jump in confidence among the state’s primary producers, much of it on the back of strong prices for wool, lamb, beef and dairy.
However, at the time the survey was conducted last month a major disparity in seasonal conditions was obvious.
Rabobank regional manager for Tasmania and Southern Victoria Hamish McAlpin said the while the season could not be better in the North and West, areas in the southern Midlands and East of the state were extremely dry.
The survey shows a major lift in confidence, with 37 per cent of the state’s farmers expecting conditions in the agricultural economy to improve over the coming year, com- pared with just 5 per cent in the previous quarter.
The proportion expecting conditions to worsen halved to 12 per cent from 23 per cent.
The proportion expecting economic conditions to remain similar to the past 12 months stood at 47 per cent.
Mr McAlpin said improved rural confidence in Tasmania was underpinned by a positive sentiment prevailing among those in the North and West.
He said in the dairy heartland farmers were buoyed by seasonal conditions and higher milk prices, with further stepups expected.
“Mixed farming enterprises have also benefited from strong market prices for lamb and beef and the recent resurgence in the wool market.”
In the South and East Mr McAlpin said the dry had seen many feeding livestock or put them on to dryland crops that had had insufficient rain to reach harvest.
While he pointed out it was early in the season to be feeding sheep and cattle, at least the cost was offset to a degree by the strong returns for lamb, cattle and wool.
Across the state, commodity prices were the biggest driver of sentiment. About 82 per cent of those expecting conditions to improve said prices were the main basis for their optimism.
In the dairy sector, all farmers who expected conditions to improve said prices were fuelling their outlook.
Seasonal conditions were reported as a positive driver by 31 per cent of those with an optimistic view.
Mr McAlpin said the availability of irrigation had alleviated concerns about the dry with many Midlands farmers looking to diversify. Faith in irrigation and water infrastructure was evident, with 27 per cent saying they would invest more over the coming year.