Farmer confidence is down

By Dairy News

VICTORIAN FARMER confidence levels have dropped to the lowest level since 2015, a new survey reveals, with dairy among those taking the biggest confidence hit.

Rabobank’s latest Rural Confidence Survey has found that uncertainty remains prominent across the industry, despite a two-year run of positive sentiment.

Commodity prices were cited by 61 per cent of the Victorian farmers surveyed as a key reason they expected conditions to worsen.

However, the prices were mainly a worry for those in dairy, with prices raised as a concerning factor for 78 per cent of dairy farmers.

Rabobank regional manager for southern Victoria and Tasmania, Hamish McAlpin, said despite seasonal uncertainty, the long-term fundamentals for agriculture remained unshaken.

Completed in February, the survey found there were more Victorian farmers expecting the industry to get worse in the next 12 months than get better.

More than one in five farmers now hold a negative view, up from 10 per cent last quarter. However, 55 per cent of those surveyed anticipate similar conditions to last year.

“Now farmers are wondering what’s around the corner as they hope for good autumn rains to set them up for winter and the upcoming cropping program,” Mr McAlpin said.

“While it is still early in the season and there is a bit of time yet with the average break in late April, this year’s outlook all really hinges on when, and how much rain, falls in the rain gauge during autumn.”

He said while there was increased competition locally for milk, the dairy industry continued to face pressure from global markets that were leading to a depressed world outlook for prices, feeding uncertainty surrounding local farm gate milk prices in 2018–19.