New Zealand farmer confidence has continued to edge higher,
but the gulf between dairy farmers and sheep and beef farmers
in terms of self-assessed viability continues, the latest
Rabobank rural confidence survey shows.
The final survey for the year showed confidence slightly up
on the already high levels of last quarter.
The most significant gain was among horticultural producers,
encouraged by an increase in prices, underpinned by strong
global demand in key export markets.
Only 5% of farmers had a negative outlook for the year ahead,
down 1% on the last quarter.
Commodity prices were identified as the primary driver of
confidence, Rabobank New Zealand chief executive Ben Russell
Farmers' assessment of their own business viability eased
slightly and it was most apparent among sheep and beef
farmers, of whom 6% had moved from easily viable/viable to
the just viable category.
''The gap in self-assessed viability between the dairy and
sheep and beef sectors continues to be very large,'' Mr
The red meat sector strategy co-ordination group has released
a progress report on how the sector is tracking towards the
goals of the red meat sector strategy released in 2011.
Despite difficulties over the past year, after a season of
unsatisfactory prices for farmers and poor results for
processors, the sector should take heart from a range of
initiatives in place to improve sector performance, Meat
Industry Association chairman Bill Falconer and Beef and Lamb
chairman Mike Petersen, who jointly chair the group, said.
More than $300 million, including Crown funding, was
committed to Primary Growth Partnership red meat programmes
by meat processing companies, fertiliser companies, industry
bodies, banks and others.
Also, much other investment in innovation was being made by
exporters, processors and farmers, ranging from processing
robotics to sheep genetics, they said.
Overall prices in this week's GlobalDairyTrade auction lifted
0.2%. Butter and casein posted gains of about 7% but prices
were pulled down by a 1.5% dip in whole milk powder prices.
Last week, Fonterra unexpectedly left its forecast milk price
unchanged at $8.30 and slashed its dividend by 22c because of
the disparity between very high milk powder prices and prices
for cheese and casein.
The auction provided the ''tiniest glimmer of hope'' for
the cheese and casein stream products all posting gains.
Casein rose 7.3%, while milk powder stream products were a
''mixed bag'', ASB rural economist Nathan Penny said.
The milk powder stream's large premium over the cheese and
casein stream remained and it would take a concerted run of
positive auction results for the cheese and casein stream to
change that dynamic, he said.