Victorian farmers’ confidence increases

By Country News

Victorian farmers are on a high, and they haven't felt like this in years.

Riding on the back of strong commodity prices and good summer rain, Victorian farmers are feeling positive about the start of 2020.

According to the latest Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey, 41 per cent of farmers are expecting conditions to improve this year.

This is in stark contrast to the confidence survey released about three months ago, when confidence was plummeting at the end of 2019.

Rabobank regional manager for southern Victoria Hamish McAlpin said many of the state’s farmers were well set up for the start of 2020, due to strong livestock sales and good seasonal conditions.

“But we are cognisant of the hardships faced over summer by farmers in those regions affected by bushfires and the recovery they have ahead of them,” he said.

“Water shortages are also still a concern for irrigation districts in northern Victoria with little run-off into major irrigation storages.”

Mr McAlpin said the Goulburn Valley in particular had been hit hard by reduced water allocations and high temporary water prices, with many farmers choosing to buy in feed for livestock and dairy enterprises, rather than purchasing water to grow fodder.

However, the proportion of Victorian dairy farmers confident of improved conditions rose from 15 per cent last year to 44 per cent this year, while 53 per cent of beef farmers expected conditions to improve, up from 22 per cent at the end of last year.

Confidence has also rallied in the sheep and grains sector as a result of increased rainfall.

Farmers were upbeat about the outlook for their own gross farm incomes this year, with 37 per cent expecting an improvement and 48 per cent expecting a similar result to last year.

Dairy farmers were the most upbeat, with 60 per cent expecting stronger gross farm incomes in 2020, up from 41 per cent last quarter.

According to the survey findings, on-farm infrastructure and new machinery and equipment make up the bulk of planned investment.

The Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey questions an average of 1000 producers across Australia on a quarterly basis.