The country's biggest rural services firm, PGG Wrightson, has posted a flat first half profit as soft commodity prices made farmers cautious about spending.
The company reported a net profit for the six months to December of $16 million, unchanged from the year before, as a fall in dairy, meat and wool prices hit revenue, reduced livestock sales and a drop in demand for irrigation systems and seeds.
PGG Wrightson chief executive Mark Dewdney said a tough start to the year had been expected, but the group's diverse assets and markets helped to insulate it, and group revenue had fallen only 2.5 percent.
He said the lift in dairy prices in recent months and a stabilisation of meat prices would make farmers more comfortable about spending.
"We look toward the second half of the financial year, which is traditionally the strongest trading period for us, with some optimism that we will see the impact of improving sentiment in the dairy sector."
Mr Dewdney said the company was expecting a full year profit of $46m to $51m, which would include the proceeds of planned property sales. Last year the full year profit was $39.6m.