VICTORIAN farmer confidence has dropped to near-decade lows, however produces in the Wimmera remain positive about the upcoming season.
The latest quarterly Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey revealed that Victorian producer confidence levels are at the lowest since 2006.
Over half the farmers surveyed (51 per cent) said they had a pessimistic view on the 12 months ahead. This was more than double from the previous survey, which was at 24 per cent.
Furthermore, 92 per cent of those surveyed with a negative view blamed their outlook on drought, with grain growers the most anxious about seasonal conditions.
Victorian Farmers Federation president and Murra Warra farmer David Jochinke said the results were not surprising.
“The results are very much reflective of the seasonal conditions. We are facing such strong issues, so there is of course an immediate flow on to how we run our businesses and our decision making,” he said.
“In these circumstances, it’s the farming community who get each other through. It’s important to reach out to others and offer support. We’re all in the same situation.”
He said it was important for farmers to think about the positives that could come from the season.
“Prices of commodities are quite strong at the moment across all sectors – that should give many producers a silver lining,” he said.
“When you see drought right on your doorstep, it’s hard. There’s always potential we could slip into drought conditions at every dry day that passes.”
Grain Producers Australia chairman and Rupanyup farmer Andrew Weidemann said confidence varied depending on location.
“Towards Nhill and Kaniva, they are having a very good season. But if you look north of Warracknabeal, it gets progressively worse the further you go,” he said.
“A lot of those farmers up north have called it already and have started spraying crops. Some of it can be used for hay, so there is still that potential for a return. Hay stocks are so low right now so prices are high.”
He said dry days and cold nights had the potential to cause frost events.
“Temperatures have been down to minus four in some areas,” he said.
“We won’t know how that will affect the crops in the Wimmera for at least another week, but there is a high potential that frost could takeover over night. Fingers crossed that’s not the case, but it will definitely harm the canola.”
VFF Grains Group president Ross Johns said the Wimmera still had crop potential.
“If we get that spring rain we need, there will be strong potential for high crop yields,” he said.
“The livestock industry is doing very well in the region, so it’s definitely not all doom and gloom. The next six weeks will give us a good idea of what the crop potential will be.”
VFF Wimmera branch president and Wallup farmer Daniel Keam said the season still had potential.
“We need about 50mm to 70mm more rain. It will be a below average season this year, but everyone I have spoken to is still very optimistic at the moment,” he said.
The survey found that 22 per cent of Victorian farmers were expecting higher gross farm incomes in the next 12 months and a further 35 per cent were anticipating incomes to be on par with previous year.
However, 38 per cent expected their incomes to fall (up from 25 per cent) – with income projections revised down furthest in the dry-affected Wimmera, Mallee and Gippsland regions.
The Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey questions an average of 1000 primary producers across a wide range of commodities and geographical areas throughout Australia on a quarterly basis.
The next results are scheduled for release in December 2018.