Drought impacts rural confidence

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THE latest quarterly Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey has found Victorian farmer confidence has dropped to near-decade lows, as the state’s agricultural producers report heightened concerns around the drought.

Released this week, the survey found just over half of Victorian farmers surveyed expect business conditions to worsen in the coming year, more than double the 24 percent with that expectation in the previous survey in June.

92 percent of those with a negative view blame their outlook on drought – with grain growers the most anxious about seasonal conditions.

Rabobank regional manager for Southern Victoria and Tasmania, Hamish McAlpin said “Viability is at levels much higher than in past dry periods, with 95 percent of surveyed farming businesses reporting viability. Crops look good around Ballarat and further west out towards Hamilton and south of Horsham, but the crops north of Horsham and the Mallee sown into very little soil moisture are in desperate need of a drink.”

It was a similar story for the state’s graziers, with 65 percent of beef producers (up from 49 percent) and 41 percent of sheep producers (up from 14 percent) reporting a negative outlook on the coming 12 months.

That said, 51 percent of surveyed sheep graziers expect similar conditions to last year, which was characterised by strong wool and lamb prices.