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Farmers mood at near record high, but rain would make it better


Strong commodity prices, low interest rates and a positive economic outlook have combined to send farmer confidence sky-high, while rain remains the missing ingredient for even better conditions.

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Agribusiness financial house, Rabobank says confidence among Queensland farmers in its latest quarterly survey is at one of its highest levels since data was first captured two decades ago.

That means 34 per cent of farmers surveyed expect conditions in the agricultural economy to improve over the coming 12 months.

While it’s three per cent lower than the figure recorded in December, a further 53 per cent of farmers expect similar conditions to last year and just 10 per cent expect a deterioration.

High confidence flows through to potentially increased economic activity, as farmers will traditionally make on-farm investments on infrastructure and equipment to boost productivity and profitability.

Queensland farmers’ investment intentions are now at levels not seen since early 2008 and the third-highest in the Rural Confidence Survey’s 20-year history.

Of those looking to increase investment, 59 per cent of producers plan to spend on on-farm infrastructure (such as fences, yards and silos), 36 per cent on new plant/machinery, 35 per cent on irrigation/water infrastructure and 31 per cent on increasing livestock numbers.

Cotton and grain growers are the most buoyant, according to the survey, with 55 per cent in both commodity sectors expecting business conditions to improve in the year ahead.

Perhaps reflecting mixed seasons across the state’s pastoral zones, 33 per cent of beef producers expect conditions to improve over the next 12 months, with 54 per cent expecting little change.

Rabobank regional manager for southern Queensland and Northern New South Wales, Brad James said that despite some significant monsoon activity in the north of the state down to around Capricornia, summer rainfall had been patchy elsewhere.

“Parts of the Darling Downs remain dry, while it has been pretty hit and miss further west around Roma. And in the black soil Downs country around Richmond and Hughenden, the country is doing its best to respond after so many dry years,” he said.

“While the Bureau of Meteorology’s latest outlook points to a wetter-than-normal autumn for south-eastern Queensland, a good break will be needed after such a patchy season in the eastern and western Downs.”

Reflective of the mixed rainfall received in the state, seasonal conditions were cited by 50 per cent of Queensland farmers with a positive outlook as reason for their optimism, while commodity prices were nominated by 71 per cent.

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