Farmers across Victoria are looking to 2018 with optimism, with strong positive sentiment reported across all agri-sectors, particularly in the sheep and dairy industries.
That was the findings of the latest Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey, which also found Victoria had retained its position of having the highest rural confidence levels in the nation for the third consecutive quarter.
Buoyed by commodity prices and seasonal conditions, eight out of 10 Victorian farmers are anticipating higher or stable gross farm incomes in the coming year and with climatic conditions favourable for much of the year, Victoria has bucked the national trend as the only state on-track to harvest an above-average grains crop.
The latest quarterly survey, completed last month, found Victorian farmer confidence to have rebounded to a net reading of 26 per cent, after dipping to seven per cent the previous quarter.
The survey also found that the proportion of the state’s farmers expecting agricultural economic conditions to improve in the next 12 months increased to 36 per cent, up from 24 per cent in the previous survey.
The percentage expecting conditions to worsen fell to 10 per cent from 17 per cent and more than half (52 per cent) had a stable outlookfor the coming year.
Rabobank’s southern Victoria and Tasmania regional manager Hamish McAlpin said the positive sentiment that prevailed across the state was largely due to late winter rains and timely follow-up rainfall, with many grain growers looking to harvest an average to above-average crop, while dairy farmers were also enjoying a good season.
Mr McAlpin said the heavy rainfall experienced in Victoria at the start of December, while a significant weather event for some parts of the state, had less of a negative impact on crops than had been anticipated.
‘‘Fortunately the heaviest falls focused on predominantly grazing country in the north-east of the state, rather than cropping areas.
‘‘Although, horticulture in the northern part of the state will experience some negative impacts as a result of the large volumes of water,’’ he said.
Mr McAlpin said Victoria had generally had a good spring, moving into summer.
‘‘Although the warmer weather took a while to get here, the widespread falls in October helped crops reach their potential, with a seven million tonne winter grain crop on the cards,’’ he said.
For the dairy sector, Mr McAlpin said the season was favourable, particularly in the south-west of the state and also west of Gippsland.
‘‘In northern Victoria, dairy farmers have good irrigation availability, albeit water prices have jumped significantly in recent months — but it remains unseasonably dry in east Gippsland,’’ he said.
Mr McAlpin said the generally positive conditions in the dairy sector were reflected in the survey results with 40 per cent of the state’s dairy farmers expecting the agricultural economy to improve during the coming 12 months, compared with 23 per cent this time last year.
The next results are scheduled for release in March 2018.