27 Jun 2017

Farmer confidence soars to new highs

5:12 pm on 27 June 2017

The confidence of New Zealand farmers is now at its highest recorded level since the Rabobank survey began 14 years ago.

Freshly shorn sheep at George Tatham's farm.

The confidence of New Zealand farmers is now at 54 percent, according to Rabobank's Rural Confidence Survey. Photo: RNZ / Alexa Cook

Rabobank's Rural Confidence Survey shows that net farmer confidence has doubled in the past three months.

It's now at 54 percent, up from 27 percent recorded in the March survey.

Rabobank's general manager for country banking, Hayley Moynihan, said this survey stands out from others.

"This is an exceptional level of confidence across all of New Zealand's agricultural sectors. That's really the key difference with these results - it's unusual to have all sectors with such a buoyant outlook at the same time."

The confidence survey had some clear front runners, Ms Moynihan said.

"There is the expected change in dairy farmers' outlook... but it's the improvement in the sheep and beef farmer outlook that's really caused the greatest lift in overall confidence.

"That's really a reflection that sheep farmer expectations were lower last year, and those have improved."

Ms Moynihan said beef prices were expected to ease, but this hasn't happened.

She said farmer investment intentions have continued to increase and are now at levels last seen in 2014.

"Again it reflects the improvement in dairy farmer expectations more widely... particularly given that dairy farmers have done a good job of tightening expenditure while milk prices were low.

"The results of this survey now indicate that they are looking to return to more normal levels of expenditure and look to spend on things like feed, fertiliser and in some cases machinery replacement."

However, while the confidence of all sectors are up, the wool market is dragging the chain.

"The only cloud on the horizon is wool prices. It hasn't dampened overall enthusiasm of sheep and beef farmers, but is the main area where the price outlook isn't as strong as others."

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