Optimistic start to season

Rabobank South Australia regional manager Roger Matthews. Photo supplied 395455_01

South Australian farmers have started the year on an optimistic note, with the state’s rural confidence surging in the last quarter, due to reduced seasonal concerns and commodity price relief.

The Q1 Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey indicated farmer confidence in the state increased for the second consecutive quarter and returned to positive territory for the first time since June 2022, with more farmers taking a positive than negative outlook on the year ahead.

Net confidence in the first quarter reached 19 per cent, a turnaround from -31 per cent in the last survey.

More than a third of SA farmers are now hopeful agricultural economic conditions will improve over the next 12 months (35 per cent, up from 15 per cent last survey) and only 16 per cent anticipate conditions will worsen (previously 45 per cent).

Rabobank South Australia regional manager Roger Matthews said he was pleased to see confidence continue to climb in the state and return to positive territory for the first time since June 2022.

“Last year, farmers were grappling with depressed markets and uncertainty around how El Nino would play out,” he said.

“Confidence started to rise at the end of 2023 thanks to more positive market signals – especially for beef – and with an early start to what shaped up to be a strong grain harvest.

“Rain events through summer have helped to top up sub-soil moisture in many grain growing regions in SA.

“This sets up grain growers to plan more optimistically for the upcoming planting period for winter crops, although confidence is tempered by expectation grain prices will remain under pressure.”

Recent and forecasted economic and seasonal conditions combined to boost positivity into SA farmers’ income expectations for the year ahead, with 34 per cent of people surveyed predicting their cash flow would increase – up from nine per cent – and fewer expecting it to decrease (27 per cent, was 69 per cent).

“There’s renewed confidence as farmers recalibrate on current seasonal outlooks, current commodity prices and interest rates, and their intention to continue expanding their enterprises indicates resilient cash flows,” Mr Matthews said.