THE Orange region’s farmers have begun to show a positive outlook following rain in October and November, but their sentiments are still at subdued levels, according to a survey.
The latest Rabobank Rural Confidence survey showed the percentage of farmers with a negative outlook on the agricultural economy in the coming 12 months fell from 69 per cent in the July-September quarter to 47 per cent in the October-December quarter of this year.
The remainder of farmers were equally split as to whether conditions were likely to improve (24 per cent, up from nine per cent) or remain the same (24 per cent, from 13 per cent) in the coming year.
The rain that has fallen has allowed some graziers to get off the feed carts for a while, and lock away some paddocks.Rabobank Central West regional manager Toby Mendl
Drought remained the key driver of pessimistic sentiment, cited by 94 per cent of those with a negative view as a reason conditions were likely to deteriorate.
Orange’s 61.8 millimetres fell about 15 millimetres short of its long-term average rainfall in November, while the 491.1 millimetres recorded for the year is well down on the long-term average of 856.5 millimetres.
Rabobank Central West regional manager Toby Mendl said there had been “some very handy rain” in recent weeks, but it was not drought-breaking as soil moisture profiles remained deficient.
“But the rain that has fallen has allowed some graziers to get off the feed carts for a while, and lock away some paddocks, although they will be looking to start feeding again with the hot weather approaching,” Mr Mendl said.
The Rabobank survey showed farmers continued to indicate strong business viability in comparison to past drought periods.
“While seasonal conditions remained challenging in many regions, they had done little to dent longer-term optimism, as reflected in ongoing investment in the sector and the strength of the rural property market,” it said.
The survey also found the long-term confidence in the agriculture sector was relatively sound for the coming year.
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