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Farmers expecting the rural economy to improve rose to a net 15% from a net 13% in the previous Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey.
Those who see it improving fell to 27% from 29% while those seeing poorer times ahead dropped to 12% from 16%.
The survey shows farmer sentiment has stabilised after concerns about government intervention and policies had driven confidence significantly lower in the previous two quarters.
The latest results showed worries about government policies and intervention, while still a concern, were now weighing less on farmers’ minds, Rabobank said.
‘‘Of the farmers who are expecting the agricultural economy to worsen this survey, government policy and intervention was nominated as a reason by 42%, compared with 80% in the previous quarter,’’ Rabobank New Zealand general manager for country banking Hayley Gourley said.
Other factors causing concern were falling commodity prices, cited by 31%, and drought, cited by 11%.
Horticulturalists recorded the largest rise in confidence in the quarter, with net confidence rising to 34% from 16%, fuelled by positive developments in key horticultural commodities.
‘‘Driven by increased demand from consumers, Zespri has recently proposed additional kiwifruit licences and this is supporting confidence among growers in this sector,’’ Ms Gourley said.
‘‘We’ve also seen increasing demand in both domestic and export markets for avocado, while in the pip fruit industry the harvest is under way and is looking good.’’
In contrast, net confidence among dairy farmers has fallen to 11% from 18%, marking the lowest level in the sector since mid-2016. Net confidence among sheep and beef farmers remained steady at 11%.
The survey was run by TNS, which polled about 450 farmers.