WHILE farmer confidence remains low in many parts of the country due to the prolonged dry conditions, farmers in Victoria have bucked the trend according to the figures from the latest Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey.
There has been a significant increase in confidence from Victorian farmers since the last survey three months ago, with farmers hopeful that conditions will improve this year.
This was an improvement from near decade-low confidence in the last quarter, which finished in December 2018.
Unlike farmers in the north, who like to have a moisture profile in place leading into the winter, due to summer-dominant rainfall patterns, Victorian primary producers can still have a good year following a dry summer and autumn.
Nearly a quarter of Victorian farmers are hopeful that conditions will improve this year, while the percentage expecting conditions to worsen almost halved from the 50 per cent with that view in December last year.
The results come in spite of ongoing dry conditions in parts of the state, including Gippsland, which is enduring a tough drought.
However, Rabobank regional manager for southern Victoria and Tasmania Hamish McAlpin said there had been a better season in the western district, where graziers had enjoyed good results in 2018.
Mr McAlpin said the upcoming autumn period would play a large role in setting the confidence levels for the rest of the year.
"If we get a decent break, it will see the crop planted into moisture and catchment areas start to wet up to take best advantage of winter and spring inflows to storages, and to provide some much-needed confidence for irrigators in the year ahead," he said.
"That said, it will take time to recover from the dry. The harvest of the next winter crop is some way off to take pressure off feed prices."
Along with Gippsland, Mr McAlpin said that the irrigation-focused Murray-Goulburn Valley region in north-east Victoria, along with the arid Mallee, had suffered through a difficult season last year.
He said harvest had been a small silver lining for some, with many reporting slightly better than expected yields.
This time last year, the Rabobank survey found Victorian farmers' start-of-year confidence levels had dropped to their lowest level since late 2015 following a two-year run of strong positive sentiment.
An independent research organisation has run the Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey since 2000.
The organisation questions about 1000 primary producers across a range of commodities and geographical areas every three months.