Western Australian farmers remain the most confident in the nation, but they are entering 2019 with lowered expectations following last year’s bumper season, according to the latest Rabobank Rural Confidence survey.
Western Australian farmers remain the most confident in the nation, but they are entering 2019 with lowered expectations following last year’s bumper season, according to the latest Rabobank Australia Rural Confidence survey.
The survey found a quarter of the state’s producers expect conditions in the agricultural economy to improve in the coming year, down from 39 per cent with that view at the end of 2018 as the harvest commenced.
Of the WA farmers surveyed, 57 per cent are anticipating similar conditions to last year, while 18 per cent indicated they were expecting the agricultural economy to worsen.
Rabobank WA regional manager Crawford Taylor said after such a positive end to 2018 for WA’s agricultural sector, particularly for grain growers, it was understandable that farmers were entering 2019 with somewhat moderated expectations.
“For grain farmers, particularly in the northern agricultural zone, 2018 was one of the most profitable years they have had,” Mr Taylor said.
“Not only did they achieve above-average yields, but prices were exceptional.
“We’re already seeing that improved equity position stimulate further investment both within the farm boundaries and prices above what we’ve seen previously for land acquisition.”
Mr Taylor said this strong appetite for investment had been captured in the previous survey, when nearly 40 per cent of farmers were looking to increase investment.
“This quarter, farmers’ investment intentions have eased somewhat, to 30 per cent, as most growers would not be expecting to be lucky enough to have a year that exceeded last year,” he said.
While 60 per cent of WA grain growers surveyed were expecting agricultural economic conditions to remain stable, only 27 per cent of grain farmers anticipate further improvement, which was down from 43 per cent last quarter.
Confidence levels were rising for sheep producers in the state, with 41 per cent of sheep graziers having an optimistic view on the year ahead, up from 39 per cent with that view in the previous quarter.
On a national scale, the survey found adverse seasonal conditions have kept sentiment in Australia’s agricultural sector subdued.
National sentiment edged marginally higher over the past quarter, but it remained at low levels, with 33 per cent of farmers negative about the year ahead, compared to 22 who are positive about the year ahead.