Wednesday, 20 March 2024 10:55

Editorial: Rural confidence is rebounding

Written by  Staff Reporters
Farmer confidence looks to be on the rebound according to the latest Federated Farm Confidence Survey. Photo Credit: Paul Sutherland Photography. Farmer confidence looks to be on the rebound according to the latest Federated Farm Confidence Survey. Photo Credit: Paul Sutherland Photography.

OPINION: Farmer confidence is on the rise.

While concerns remain on farm around high interest rates, poor commodity prices and excessive red tape, the good news is that farmer confidence has risen from last year's record lows.

However, the rural sector isn't out of the woods yet. While Federated Farmers' latest Farm Confidence Survey may show that there has been a positive shift in the rural mood since 2023, when confidence reached its lowest point in the survey's 15-year history, tough times prevail on farm. Farmers are struggling with high inflation, high interest rates and lower commodity prices, and the impact of those on their profitability.

According to Federated Farmers, most farmers are still feeling that general economic conditions are bad, and most are still making a loss.

The survey shows that the four greatest concerns for farmers are debt, interest & banks; farmgate & commodity prices; regulation & compliance costs; and climate change policy & ETS.

The Government, nor anyone else, can do much about farmgate and commodity prices, there's still a lot that can be done to alleviate farmer concerns around banks. An independent inquiry into rural banking would be a good start.

One reason farmer confidence is rebounding is the new Government, which includes a record number of farmers, is talking about a real commitment to roll back some of the more impractical and expensive regulation that's undermined farmer confidence. But farmers want to see action.

Farmers are optimistic they will see confidence continue to lift in the year ahead, helped by an easing of unnecessary regulatory pressure on things like unworkable freshwater rules.

It's all about cutting red tape, making compliance on-farm easier, and getting the primary sector humming again. But for that to happen, the Government must come to the party. The primary sector will be watching closely.

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