Grain grower optimism sky-high in WA: report

Cally Dupe and Matt CoughlanCountryman
Grain farmer Corey Mincherton.
Camera IconGrain farmer Corey Mincherton. Credit: The West Australian

WA grain farmers are feeling the most buoyant in the country.

Rabobank’s latest quarterly rural confidence survey showed WA farmers were bullish about on-farm income, with appetite for rural property acquisition strong in WA.

Every WA grain farmer surveyed by Rabobank this quarter reported their business as viable, compared to 95 per cent across the nation.

Sheep producers also posted a significant upswing in confidence, with 39 per cent now feeling positive about the 12 months ahead, lagging just behind grain growers at 43 per cent.

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Rabobank WA regional manager Crawford Taylor said graziers were feeling positive about the industry after the live export trade resumed.

“At the time of the previous survey, concerns over changes to the live export market were being felt across the industry,” he said.

“In the middle of the year, there was a suspension on live sheep exports for the northern summer.

“With sheep already destined for boats, producers were worried about the price impact and their ability to hold over large numbers of stock, given the later start to the season.”

In beef and dairy, WA producers were not feeling as optimistic about the outlook, with 50 per cent of those surveyed negative.

Mr Taylor said seasonal conditions had improved substantially for beef producers across WA.

“The very dry start to the year had graziers beginning to get worried, and some had already started looking at plans to begin reducing stock numbers,” he said.

Australia’s national winter crop production is tipped to be 20 per cent below the 20-year average, as farmers grapple with drought across large parts of the nation’s east.

The Federal Government’s agriculture forecaster also released its latest crop report last week, which predicted winter crop production to be 23 per cent below last year.

ABARES executive director Steve Hatfield-Dodds said winter crop prospects deteriorated in early spring because of conditions in most cropping regions.

“While production in New South Wales and Queensland is forecast to be the lowest in over 20 years, we expect national production to be substantially higher than in the droughts of 2002-2003 and 2006-2007,” he said.

Dr Hatfield-Dodds said above-average October rainfall helped crop prospects in WA.

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