Good season has farmers looking to expand

ACCORDING to the latest Commonwealth Bank agricultural insights survey, farmers are preparing to invest more in technology, hire more staff and engage more consultants than ever before.
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Kristy Moroney

The survey also showed a great season for both cropping and livestock has boosted agribusiness confidence to its highest level in three years.

According to the bank's report, 35 per cent of farmers plan to invest in new fencing and one in four plans to buy new machinery. Six per cent have expansion plans including increasing their acreage or livestock holdings.

The bumper season and veritable technology boom in the sector with drones, robotics, farming applications and autonomous machinery has sparked a resurgence of interest in the agricultural industry with a record number of younger people keen to enter the sector.

The Commonwealth Bank survey also showed ten per cent of the nation's family farms are expected to welcome back an adult child. This is a huge turnaround from fears the next generation of pedigree farmers did not want to continue the family business and the national average age of farmers would remain in the mid-50s.

Commonwealth Bank agribusiness chief Grant Cairns said an unusual aspect of the survey was that the farmer wellbeing and optimism was spread across most sectors and all parts of Australia, with livestock producers leading the charge.

The ¬recent wool boom has a record 18% of wool producers looking to invest in new equipment and enterprise expansion, the same level enjoyed by the buoyant beef cattle sector.

Confidence even appears to be slowly rebounding in the suffering dairy industry, with 12% of farmers saying they'll expand their enterprise, compared with just one per cent six months ago.

Mr Cairns said the strong investment sentiment will not stop at the farm gate, but extend right through regional communities and rural businesses.

"We're expecting to see a solid knock-on effect as farmers implement their investment plans," Cairns said. 

"Strong market conditions look set to translate into increased employment opportunities, more purchasing of machinery and equipment and more hiring of employees, consultants and contractors; that's good news for the every part of rural and regional Australia," he said