03/06/2014 - 14:28

WA farmer confidence highest in two years

03/06/2014 - 14:28

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The state’s rural confidence is at its highest level in over two years after a rainy autumn has found 84 per cent of farmers expecting this year to be better or as good as last year's season.

WA farmer confidence highest in two years

Western Australia’s wet autumn has helped lift rural confidence to its highest level in more than two years, with 84 per cent of farmers expecting this year to be better or as good as last season.

According to the latest Rabobank rural confidence survey, 33 per cent of farmers are expecting conditions to improve over the coming year, up from 23 per cent in the last quarter.

In all, 51 per cent of farmers are expecting similar conditions to last year, up from 46 per cent, with only 15 per cent expecting conditions to decline.  

WA farmers with a positive outlook on the coming year cited three main drivers of sentiment – commodity prices, the state of overseas markets, and the season.

Rabobank Australia WA state manager Crawford Taylor said 90 per cent of the Wheatbelt had recorded good rains by the end of April.

“This has given us an incredible start, with significant falls across much of the northern and eastern Wheatbelt,” he said.

“The rain, combined with warm soil temperatures, has been ideal for germination, with lupins and canola already in the ground and wheat now going in.”

A total of 35 per cent of WA farmers expect an improved financial position over the next 12 months with a combination of the commodity price outlook and the season bringing in stronger performance expectations.

Graziers have recorded good pasture growth in recent weeks thanks to widespread rainfall, with the outlook for dairy producers and those in the viticulture and horticulture industries set to improve.

Beef producers are anticipating high return as the farmgate price hit its highest level in late April for more than a year.

“The outlook for live exports – the backbone of our cattle market here in the west – is also bright from both a market access and trade point of view,” Mr Taylor said.

“After a few difficult years, farmers are more positive about the federal government’s position on trade with 137,000 head already shipped to Indonesia in the first quarter of this year.”

Rabobank senior grains analyst Graydon Chong said although it was forecast that Australian prices would follow global markets and come under downward pressure, prices were expected to maintain a premium in the long term.

The survey also found that two-thirds of the state’s farmers were making plans for their children to take over the family business.

“That being said, there are 22 per cent intending to exit the industry, which leaves opportunites for existing farmers to acquire property in the near future or for other capital to make its way into the industry,” Mr Taylor said. 

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