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Calm the farm: Qld cotton growers the nation's most confident


Queensland farmers are the most optimistic in the nation according to Rabobank’s latest rural confidence survey, but hefty land prices are constricting some wanting to maximise their gains.

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Queensland cotton growers are at the top of the confidence ladder, which makes them the most optimistic group of primary producers in the nation.

The quarterly Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey released today has found 87 per cent of cotton growers expect business conditions to improve – up from the 63 per cent who held that view three months ago.

Recent rain, a longer term good seasonal outlook and firm prices are behind the optimism revival.

Across all sectors, 90 per cent of the state’s producers expect conditions to either remain stable or improve further in the year ahead.

While a mere 10 per cent of producers are predicting a deterioration in conditions over the next 12 months, confidence overall is slightly back on the last survey in September.

Despite agricultural confidence falling back across Australia in the latest quarter, Queensland producer sentiment remains the strongest in the country, alongside New South Wales, which also saw a decline during the survey period.

This quarter, 39 per cent of Queensland’s producers reported they are expecting agricultural business conditions to improve in the coming 12 months, while close to half are expecting a continuation of current conditions.

Despite recent heavy rain causing disruptions to harvest and the downgrading and loss of some crops in areas flooded, the survey found 46 per cent of Queensland grain growers expect farm business conditions to improve in the 12 months ahead.

Beef producers are also bullish, with record prices and generally good seasonal conditions causing 35 per cent of beef producers to report a positive outlook and 58 per cent expecting a continuation of current conditions.

As recently reported by InQueensland, rain has also impacted the sugar harvest in some areas, reducing yield and tonnage.

After posting an upswing in sentiment last quarter, confidence edged back in the sugar sector – albeit remaining strong – with 43 per cent of cane growers expecting business conditions to improve, and 37 per cent expecting them to remain stable.

Off the back of good seasons and strong prices, Queensland producers are revising up expectations for their gross farm incomes.

More than half of the survey respondents expect a higher gross farm income over the coming 12 months.

Rabobank regional manager for Southern Queensland and Northern NSW, Brad James, said a further 35 per cent expected a similar financial result to the previous financial year and just 11 per cent expected a deterioration in farm incomes.

“This is the most positive income expectation reading in 20 years, since June 2001,” James said.

With the projected boost to farm incomes, more than a third of Queensland respondents are now looking to increase investment in their farm businesses, while 55 per cent are planning to maintain investment at current levels.

Land purchases were proving a challenge, however, Mr James said.

“Record land prices across Queensland are creating a challenge for producers wanting to invest in land,” he said.

“We are seeing producers make multiple attempts at auction to purchase additional land and being unsuccessful as prices run away.”

James said that of the 38 per cent of Queensland producers looking to increase investment, this is pegged for on-farm infrastructure such as fences, yards, silos, new plant/machinery, adopting new technologies and increasing livestock numbers.

The next results are scheduled for release in March 2022.

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