Dry, hot weather results in a lack of farmer confidence for the year ahead

Hopes fade away: The hot, dry weather over the last few months has diminished the confidence of farmers in New South Wales. Photo: File
Hopes fade away: The hot, dry weather over the last few months has diminished the confidence of farmers in New South Wales. Photo: File

Lack of rainfall across most parts of New South Wales has reduced farmers confidence across the state, a recent survey has found.

In its first survey for 2018 – the latest quarterly Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey released March, 5 -found the net confidence indicator had dipped into negative territory to -3 per cent, from 15 per cent in December last year.

The survey questions an average of 1000 primary producers across a wide range of commodities and geographical areas throughout Australia on a quarterly basis.

The percentage expecting conditions in the agricultural economy to worsen stood at 23 per cent (up from 13 per cent last quarter), while 20 per cent expected conditions to improve (down from 28 per cent).

Rabobank’s regional manager for central NSW Toby Mendl said the central west area was a decent snapshot of the national survey’s results.

He said the dry, hot summer conditions has resulted in central west farmers anxious for an autumn break.

“There was reasonable rain across the district but it was patchy,” he said.

“Some areas got good falls and others missed out.”

Mr Mendl said there was good confidence with irrigated cotton farmers in areas such as Warren.

“But dryland farmers (west of Dubbo) are anxious.. as they need more rain,” he said.

“Areas such as Walgett and Coonamble received good falls recently about 30 millimetres. But they’ll be looking for more prior to sowing.”

Rabobank regional manager for central NSW Toby Mendl. Photo: Supplied.

Rabobank regional manager for central NSW Toby Mendl. Photo: Supplied.

Of the NSW farmers surveyed, 55 per cent of those expected conditions to deteriorate over the next 12 months and cited the dry weather as the reason for their pessimism – with seasonal conditions particularly concerning for cotton producers.

Thanks to carryover grain being stored on-farm, the survey found NSW grain growers to be the most positive about the outlook for the next 12 months.

Sheep producers were positive with their outlook for the year ahead thanks sheep, lamb and wool markets remaining historically high.

The survey found 78 per cent of sheep producers expected similar, or even better, conditions than last year.

The next results are scheduled for release in June 2018.