Farmers are looking up once again
QUEENSLAND farmer confidence has taken a positive turn in the past quarter, with promising spring rainfall in southern parts of the state fuelling a more optimistic outlook in the rural sector, the latest Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey has shown.
Rabobank regional manager for north Queensland and Northern Territory Trent McIndoe said drought conditions that had negatively impacted confidence in parts of the Darling Downs and southwest Queensland had begun to ease during spring due to some significant rain, particularly in October.
However, Mr McIndoe said catastrophic bushfires that have been raging across parts of Queensland, along with extreme heatwave conditions, would undoubtedly have knocked farmer confidence since the survey was in the field.
The final Rural Confidence Survey for the year found that after a year in negative territory - with more Queensland farmers having a negative than positive outlook on their prospects - the state's primary producers were overall more optimistic about their future.
Queensland farmers reported the strongest jump in confidence across the country in the survey, with 29per cent of producers indicating a positive outlook on the agricultural economy in the next 12 months, up from just 11per cent with that view last quarter.
The proportion expecting agricultural economic conditions to deteriorate had declined to 28per cent, from 55per cent previously, while 38per cent expected similar conditions.
Mr McIndoe said the rebound in sentiment was testament to the underlying positive outlook that producers have about Queensland's agricultural industries.
"While it's impossible to make a business drought-proof, Queensland producers have had more than their share of serious droughts and they have learned to operate in quite a challenging environment,” Mr McIndoe said.
More than half believed their ability to prepare for drought was better now than five years ago.
Despite concerns about next year's income, Queensland farmers across the board still rated the viability of their farms much higher than in previous droughts, with 92per cent of those surveyed assessing their businesses as viable.