New survey reveals state's agribusinesses confidence is on the rise

04 April 2023

The latest Rabobank Rural Confidence survey has revealed that Tasmania is one of only two states to have shown an uplift in rural confidence in the last quarter. This is despite the impact of last October's heavy rainfall still being reported by farmers, with lower crop yields and lambing numbers being down in some parts of the state.

The survey found that 19% of Tasmanian farmers expect agricultural economic conditions to improve in the next 12 months, up 12% from the previous survey, while 61% expected the outlook to be stable for the year ahead.

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In contrast, nationally rural confidence has fallen to the lowest levels since 2018, with the exception of Western Australia and Tasmania. Overall, the number of farmers expecting the agricultural economy to improve over the coming 12 months dropped to 11% compared with 15% in December 2022.

Despite the wet start to the season delaying planting in Tasmania, it didn't hamper what ended as an excellent growing season. The late heat eventually dried off the land for East coast and midland producers. In the south, the wet spring reportedly improved productivity, and in Bothwell, one producer said the impact was positive, particularly considering higher prices for spuds.

However, the real concern for 79% of Tasmanian farmers was that they thought conditions would worsen, with a fear of falling commodity prices followed by overseas market conditions and rising interest rates. Sheep and dairy producers were primarily concerned about commodity prices as high costs for labor, fertiliser, and diesel persisted.

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Famers continue to raise these issues with the TFGA, and cite labor shortages, with shearers, vegetable harvesters, dairy staff, and pickers in high demand.The view in the beef industry is slightly more optimistic, with cattle prices remaining high and a positive driver for confidence, albeit some correction has occurred since the peak of early 2020.

An excellent example of the market's overall strength can be seen in the recent sale by Landfall Angus of their top bull for $240,000 at its annual sale. The bull broke Tasmania's record for the highest-selling Angus bull, sold for $75,00 in 2019, and the overall highest sale of a Hereford bull at $82,000. Their success is a recognition of Landfall's quality and effort in breeding such great stud animals.

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Members are telling us that they expect prices to pull back, but the bottom hasn't fallen out of the market yet, with stock prices remaining high, but likely down on the records of 2021/2022. In terms of trade, prices are expected to remain stable, and demand for Tasmania's products will continue. Diesel prices have also eased in the last 12 months, providing relief as we hit the top of the cycle for diesel and also hopefully interest rates.

While global factors remain out of farmers' control, many have now factored in the impacts of the Ukraine war on energy and supply chains. The sector remains positive, and some pressure in the supply chains appears easing. Suppliers are now putting time frames on the arrival of stock again, where members were previously told farming equipment and stock delivery times were unknown.

We provide a united voice

As the largest advocacy group in Tasmania and the only one that focuses exclusively on farming and the rural sector, the future of Tasmanian agriculture is our focus.

Join the TFGA today for a greater future.

Contact our Membership Manager

Kellie Morris