Farmer confidence still low with most still making a loss

Farmer confidence is starting to claw its way back after hitting rock-bottom in July.

Despite the slight increase in spirits, high interest rates, poor commodity prices and regulatory costs are weighing heavily on farmers.

Day in and day out, farming is hard work. Whether you're a sheep and beef farmer, a dairy farmer, or arable, one thing's the same.

"I farm because I actually love it as a job," Federated Farmers arable chair David Birkett said.

So when farm confidence hit rock bottom in July, things were grim.

Six months on, a new Federated Farmers survey only tells a slightly better story. Most farmers are still making a loss and confidence is still low.

"I can't sugar-coat the situation we're in on farms, things are extremely tough, particularly in our red meat sector for sheep and beef. We need to do all that we can and help support them to get them through this patch," said Federated Farmers president Wayne Langford.

The survey found farmers' biggest concerns are debt, interest and banks, commodity prices, regulation and compliance costs and climate change policy.

But they're optimistic about the change in Government.

Sheffield farmer Tom Ferguson said it's a relief and "proof will be in the pudding what happens the next wee while".

Dairy had the largest economic improvement. Waikato dairy farmer Bart van de Ven posts small videos online. In one he exclaimed: "Our herd looks so f***ing good, almost brings a tear to my eye. What a season."

"In this spot right now, my confidence is probably an eight to nine out of 10 but last season probably four to five so yeah big jump," he said.

"My cows look great, they're in calf, I've got plenty of grass - that's confidence to me."

How well dairy is doing can influence both sheep and beef and arable farming, but, "in isolation arable and sheep and beef are probably struggling," Birkett said.

Arable saw the smallest economic increase.

"We think we're probably near the bottom and there is only one way back from where we are," Birkett added.

Coming off a good harvest, 10 percent above average, "the downside is we've also seen our commodity prices decrease by 30 percent. Anyone who can do maths knows a 10 percent increase doesn't cover a 30 percent loss".

A net 55 percent of farmers surveyed consider general economic conditions to be bad - compared to a net 80 percent in July.

But with regulatory concerns still looming, the message from farmers is clear.

"Just back us. We don't want subsidies, we don't want anything, we don't want any extra, just leave us alone to farm like we always have," Ferguson said.

"I got pride in my stock and I love it when someone will have a lamb chop, it's the best tasting thing ever, better than oysters, that's why we farm - we enjoy it."

Farming for the love of it, through the highs, and the lows.