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31 July 1997
The mid-year MAF Farm Monitoring Reports on farmer, grower and consultant perceptions have been released.
Farmers are having to cope with great volatility in market prices and conditions, and one of their challenges is in developing financial buffers to cope with this.
Some of the more general trends to emerge from the four regional reports are:
Generally most farms entered last winter with good reserves of pasture on hand. The late winter/early spring was quite wet and production, particularly growth rates of cattle, suffered. The late spring was very dry, leading to slow pasture grown rates (up to 30% less than normal on dairy farms) but this helped maintain pasture quality into the summer.
Summer/Autumn was exceptional - many farms (both dairy and sheep) had their best season.
Arable crop production also a record - even if drying costs higher.
Farmers are expecting excellent lambing percentages, and good cow condition indicates that production prospects are good
Gross farm revenue up 15% over 1995/96.
Major factor - sheep revenue up 34%, due to price and weight and increased lambing percentages.
The cash farm surplus is down 3% Interest paid in higher - higher overdraft.
Production back off the peak and declining payout is putting more pressure on dairy farmers.
Farmer morale up significantly over last six months because:
Wool is the only depressing issue - increasingly seen as a by product
Few sales are occurring, with forestry interest relatively inactive.
Of the classic indicators, fertiliser investment is up 10%, repairs and maintenance expenditure is also up, while capital expenditure is still low.