Harsh season a defining moment

05 July 2024

Despite the continued weak conditions, farmers are keeping one eye on the horizon toward those signs and seasonal indicators that may signify a swing to better times. 

The Q2 Rabobank Rural Confidence survey released last month shows a net decline in confidence to -16 per cent, down -7 per cent from the previous quarter's survey.  At the time of the survey, 40% of producers were conscious that conditions may deteriorate or worsen further. 

For a majority of farmers participating in the survey drought was of course, the number one concern for the sector, and members across the state are telling us nothing has changed, only the demand and need for feed increased. 

Many farmers from King Island and Flinders to the southeast of mainland Tasmania have been impacted by the logistic issue of destocking and bottlenecks around processing. 

Read more: Tasmanian Livestock Health Monitoring report for April 2024

Members can be assured TasFarmers continues to lobby the government to provide solutions and secure access to mainland supply concerning feed and logistics. 

It will be favourable agricultural policies and further government support appearing on the horizon that will provide any real sign of relief for many. 

The policy setting must be around effective drought relief programs and policy measures that support recovery from adverse dry conditions, and we are not there yet. 

Some of these are already in place with welcome news this week on the Tasmanian Government hardship grant program being extended over the winter until spring. 

Read more: Primary Employers Tasmania, 2 July 2024 Newsletter

However, our farmers need the support of the Federal Labour government when it comes to making changes to the Tasmanian Freight Equalisation Scheme to secure feed and fodder.

The state has received some rainfall recently, but one of the key indicators that will bring optimism is a shift towards more consistent and sufficient rainfall. 

This will be especially important as we approach the next growing period, which will help establish healthy crops and ensure adequate yields.

These policy challenges are substantial, and while some stability may be returning to red meat markets, producers will also be looking for signs of higher prices in the market to further reduce uncertainty and facilitate longer-term planning. 

Read more: Accessing the North East

Periods of drought always turn to long-term planning and will naturally focus on water management, with state and federal government investment in irrigation serving as a critical seasonal buffer. 

This will be the defining moment for farmers and will foster optimism about the future and encourage sustainable investment.