Out­look still sunny

Tasmanian Country - - NEWS - KAROLIN MACGREGOR

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.

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