VICTORIAN farmers are still the most positive in Australia, despite their confidence dropping this quarter.
The latest quarterly Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey found 35 per cent of participants expected conditions to deteriorate for primary producers in the next 12 months.
This is up from 30pc last quarter, but a majority (45pc) are expecting conditions to stay on par with the past year.
Rabobank Victoria manager Todd Charteris said this could be put down to most areas still waiting for the autumn break.
"Many of the State's farmers have come out of a drier-than-normal summer so are really looking for rain over the next few weeks," he said.
"While it is certainly dry around much of the State, we generally don't get that critical break until late April.
"Those waiting to get their crops in will be anxiously watching the skies over the next few weeks, while livestock producers need the moisture to boost their feed reserves heading into winter."
Victorian farmers have maintained confidence in their own businesses, however, with 51pc expecting individual performance to remain the same as last year, and 27pc expecting an improvement.
Graingrowers across the State have lower expectations than last year and Mr Charteris said price uncertainty had contributed to this.
"While wheat prices have come off, there is so much uncertainty over the state of the northern hemisphere crop, which will have a bounce effect on prices back here – but prices are reasonable at this point," he said.
The lack of rain across all States has also affected national results in the survey, with more than a third of Australian farmers expecting times to get tougher in the next 12 months – up 2pc from last quarter.
Tasmanian producers saw the biggest drop in confidence, reaching the lowest level since the survey began in 2001.
Nearly two thirds of Tasmanian farmers (63pc) expect the agriculture economy to worsen in the next 12 months – up from 33pc last quarter.
Rabobank Tasmanian manager Greg Bott said farmers were facing pressure from all directions, with an extended dry, flat commodity prices and high energy and feed costs.
"While these factors are making things tough for farmers, many are also weighing on sentiment in the wider economy," he said.
Rabobank country banking Australia group executive Peter Knoblanche said market pressures, the high dollar, farm input costs and seasonal conditions all contributed to rural confidence decreasing.
across the country.
"Overall, economic conditions are generally weak as the State is undergoing a period of change, and we have seen evidence of this with some industries, such as native forestry, winding up," he said. Full story in this week's Stock & Land