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SA grain growers upbeat


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South Australian farmers remain upbeat about 2014 with optimism particularly high among the state’s grain growers, who have recently bagged one of the biggest harvests on record.

Despite having a good season last year, one in five SA farmers expect an even better result for 2014, while more than half expect a year as good as the last, the latest Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey has found.

The survey – completed earlier this month – found 85 per cent of South Australian farmers were expecting the agricultural economy to improve or remain similar to last year.

Of these, 22 per cent expect an improvement and 63 per cent expect conditions to remain stable, with just 10 per cent anticipating a deterioration.

The Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey questions an average of 1000 primary producers across a wide range of commodities and geographical areas throughout Australia on a quarterly basis.

Rabobank state manager for South Australia James Robinson said the state’s farmers were entering 2014 in a stronger position off the back of a consistent run of good seasons.

“Last season couldn’t have been better for many of the state’s grain growers and it enabled graziers to replenish fodder reserves,” he said.

Robinson said that while conditions remain dry in the pastoral zone – exacerbated by the hot summer – it was fairly typical for this time of year and farmers in that region were attuned to managing in such conditions.

However, for the state’s beef producers, these conditions are being coupled with depressed market dynamics.

“There is the feeling that once Queensland gets a break in the season, the supply of cattle to the market will dry up and drive an upswing in prices,” Robinson said.

“In contrast, prices are holding up well for sheep and lamb and the wool market is also trading at reasonable levels.”

The season was the biggest driver of South Australian farmer confidence this quarter with 35 per cent of those expecting conditions in the agricultural economy to improve citing seasonal conditions as the reason for their optimism (up from 20 per cent previously).

In terms of the coming season, Robinson said the state’s farmers were now at the ‘cusp point’ waiting for the break, which usually comes around mid-May.

“While it has been a hot and dry summer the season is by no means atypical for this time of year,” he said. “And there are some areas in the central belt that have benefited from recent rains and have good moisture in the ground.”

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