Farmer con­fi­dence slumps

Lat­est poll echoes the busi­ness sen­ti­ment sur­veys

The New Zealand Herald - - NEWS -

New Zealand farmer con­fi­dence tum­bled in Jan­u­ary as a drought and un­cer­tainty over new gov­ern­ment poli­cies took their toll.

A net 34 per cent of those sur­veyed were pes­simistic about gen­eral eco­nomic con­di­tions over the next 12 months.

That is a marked de­te­ri­o­ra­tion from 16 per cent who were op­ti­mistic in July, ac­cord­ing to the lat­est new sea­son Fed­er­ated Farm­ers’ Farm Con­fi­dence Jan­u­ary sur­vey.

Within the dif­fer­ent in­dus­try groups, 43 per cent of dairy farm­ers said they now ex­pected gen­eral eco­nomic con­di­tions to worsen over the next 12 months ver­sus 5.8 per cent in July, 34 per cent of meat and fi­bre farm­ers were ex­pect­ing the same, ver­sus 12 per cent in July, while 47 per cent of arable farm­ers were ex­pect­ing a de­te­ri­o­ra­tion, ver­sus 12 per cent in July.

The farmer con­fi­dence sur­vey echoes the busi­ness sen­ti­ment sur­veys show­ing grow­ing pes­simism about the coun­try’s eco­nomic for­tunes un­der a new ad­min­is­tra­tion, trig­ger­ing Fi­nance Min­is­ter Grant Robert­son to ac­knowl­edge the mood at a se­lect com­mit­tee hear­ing last month and say min­is­ters are seek­ing to al­lay those con­cerns.

“Pretty much all re­cent sur­veys of busi­nesses have found a drop in con­fi­dence be­cause of the dis­rup­tion and un­cer­tainty over Oc­to­ber’s gen­eral elec­tion. And in mid-Jan­u­ary, when our sur­vey was done, farm­ers in many re­gions had en­dured weeks and weeks of lit­tle or no rain,” Fed­er­ated Farm­ers vice pres­i­dent An­drew Hog­gard said. On farmer prof­itabil­ity, 54 per cent said they are gen­er­at­ing a profit, 35 per cent were break­ing even and 9.3 per cent were run­ning at a loss.

Sim­i­lar to the July 2017 sur­vey, the great­est con­cern for farm­ers was reg­u­la­tion and com­pli­ance costs.

The dry weather was also on their minds, and worry about cli­mate change pol­icy and the po­ten­tial for live­stock emis­sions to be in­cluded in the emis­sions trad­ing scheme showed a marked in­crease, Hog­gard said.

Also, com­pared to pre­vi­ous years, biose­cu­rity con­cerns such as pests and dis­eases is more ev­i­dent and at the high­est level ever seen in these sur­veys. The Jan­u­ary on­line sur­vey re­ceived 1070 re­sponses from farm­ers across 24 prov­inces.

Pic­ture / NZME

Forty-three per cent of dairy farm­ers ex­pect eco­nomic con­di­tions to worsen over the next 12 months ver­sus 5.8 per cent last July.

An­drew Hog­gard

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