22 Dec 2009

Farmer confidence up, mainly on cow's back

11:02 am on 22 December 2009

Farmer optimism is on the rise, according to Rabobank's latest rural confidence survey. The main reason: the improved outlook for the dairy sector.

The survey, conducted across New Zealand last month, shows that nearly a third of the country's farmers expect the rural economy to improve during the next year. That's up from the 22% who held that view in the previous quarter.

But more than a quarter of the farmers surveyed are still expecting conditions to deteriorate.

The dairy sector is the most optimistic, with nearly half of its farmers expecting a lift in the agricultural economy and more than 60% expecting their own businesses to improve as well.

But Hamish Midgley of Rabobank New Zealand says there's a big contrast between dairying and other sectors.

Only 12% of sheep and beef farmers, for example, are expecting an improvement in their own businesses, putting most of the blame for the doldrums on the high dollar.

Confidence is also well down in the horticulture sector, with nearly 40% of growers expecting things to get worse.