DESPITE rural sentiment easing slightly this quarter the booming beef market has helped keep spirits high among Tasmania’s farm sector, according to a confidence survey.
With ongoing wet weather throughout winter and spring presenting several challenges for the sector – overall confidence levels are still very strong.
Agribusiness Rabobank’s Rural Confidence Survey has found 90 per cent of the state’s farmers expecting business conditions to remain as they are, or improve further, over the year ahead.
Sentiment is particularly strong among beef producers – where strong demand and limited supply continue to fuel tight market conditions and historically-high prices – while many in the sheep and dairy sector are expecting business conditions to remain stable.
Released during the week, the latest survey reveals more than one third of Tasmanian farmers believe the coming 12 months will be even better than the current strong conditions.
The strong longer-term outlook for the sector is also very evident, with the survey, completed last month, revealing an increase in the number of Tasmanian farmers planning to invest more in their farm businesses in the coming year.
Rabobank area manager for Tasmania Stuart Whatling said wet weather in most areas of the state had thrown up some challenges for producers in all sectors but had not been enough to significantly impact the generally buoyant outlook.
“Tasmanian farmers are absolutely positive about the current conditions, especially due to commodity and land prices.
It’s really been a phenomenal ride,” he said.
“Although in most areas, I’d say generally there has now been too much rain, which is causing all sorts of delays and impacts.
“Farmers are working hard to manage the impacts of wet weather, from altering cropping programs to delayed silaging and shearing, whilst a number enjoyed an October and November without the need for irrigating.”
The survey found 37 per cent of the state’s farmers are expecting business conditions to improve over the coming year (from 39 per cent with that view in the previous quarter) while 10 per cent are forecasting conditions to deteriorate (compared with none in quarter three).
The majority – at 52 per cent – are expecting a continuation of current conditions.
As has been the case all year, commodity prices continue to underpin the optimistic outlook among Tasmania’s farmers and – despite ongoing above-average rainfall through the middle of the year – good seasonal conditions were also reported as a positive factor influencing confidence.
Sentiment was strongest among the state’s beef producers, with commodity prices continuing to drive optimism.
Just under three quarters of beef producers surveyed expect the current excellent business conditions to improve even further.