Sentiment in the nation’s agricultural sector is at a 15-month low as Australia’s farmers brace for a hot, dry summer with drought conditions intensifying across large swathes of the country, the latest quarterly Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey has found.
The driest spring on record – along with bushfires which heralded an early start to summer – saw the latest survey report the sixth-lowest reading in its 18-year history, with two-in-five farmers expecting conditions in the agricultural economy to deteriorate even further in the coming year.
However, rural confidence remains considerably higher than at the height of previous significant droughts.
Confidence in this survey was down across all commodity sectors and states, except Queensland where it remained subdued.
The final survey for 2019, released today, found of the 1000 farmers questioned, 41 per cent expect agricultural economic conditions to worsen in the next 12 months (up from 30 per cent in the September quarter), while 31 per cent expect them to stay the same. Only 17 per cent had a positive outlook on the year ahead, compared with 25 per cent in the previous survey.
Rabobank Australia CEO Peter Knoblanche said as the year draws to a close, there had been little respite in the unrelenting dry across much of the eastern seaboard.
“Dry conditions are now extending across the country to the west, and the nation enduring its driest January to November period since 1902.
And with little relief foreseen – with the Bureau of Meteorology forecasting a warmer and drier-than-average summer – Mr Knoblanche said the season was understandably on most farmers’ minds as fires, heat and wind foreshadowed “a long summer ahead”.
Results at a glance:
- Australian rural confidence declines to 15-month low.
- 2-in-5 farmers expect conditions could worsen as dry, fires and heat take their toll.
- However confidence still above levels seen at height of previous significant droughts.
- Fundamentals for agri sector remain solid, with strong demand and solid prices for many sectors.
- Sentiment found to be down across all commodity sectors and states, except Queensland where it remained subdued.