According to the latest Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey, significant rainfall across southern Queensland, following a very dry winter, has seen the state’s rural confidence rebound strongly from its fall last quarter,
Completed last month, the survey found a quarter of Queensland producers (26 per cent) now expected the agricultural economy to improve over the coming 12 months which was a significant improvement from last quarter when only 14pc were optimistic.
The number of producers with a negative view also fell to only 8pc, down significantly from 31pc last quarter, while 60pc of respondents thought conditions in the agricultural economy would remain relatively unchanged over the coming year.
Rabobank regional manager Trent McIndoe said while the rain had arrived a little too late to have much benefit for the winter crop in the south, its impact on sentiment was significant.
“Most of the winter harvest has pretty much wound up now and yields across the state are definitely down on last year,” he said.
“The falls received in early October will have had a bit of a negative impact on those producers who were harvesting at that point, but this would have been far outweighed by the boost provided by this much-needed rain.”
The improved weather conditions were reflected in the survey results, where sentiment was particularly strong for grain growers with 49pc now expecting conditions to improve, up from 28pc previously.
“In Central Queensland, most got their crop off before any substantial rain,” Mc McIndoe said.
And while yields and prices were down in many cases, cereal prices were up a bit on last year and chickpea prices, though down from last year, were still close to that $900 a tonne price point.
“Cotton producers are also reaping the benefits of the spring rains and we’ve seen a good amount of both irrigated and dryland country planted.
“If we were to see follow-up rain, we’d expect confidence among cotton producers to remain high, in spite of the pressure currently being placed on prices from a substantial US pick.”
For the livestock sector, the outlook had also improved with the arrival of rain increasing fodder levels.
Of the beef producers surveyed, 32pc were expecting conditions to improve (up from 16pc last quarter) while 59pc were expecting the outlook to remain unchanged.
Meanwhile, the increased positivity among the state’s farmers had flowed into strong investment intentions as 92pc of the Queensland farmers surveyed expected to either increase or maintain their level of farm investment over the coming 12 months, up from 86pc in the previous survey.
As to where the investment would be made, the survey found 61pc were looking to increase their spend on farm infrastructure, 40pc were seeking to increase livestock numbers while 33pc were intending to adopt new technologies in operations.
The survey questions an average of 1000 primary producers across a wide range of commodities throughout Australia. The next results are scheduled for March 2018.