Beef prices recover and influence farmer confidence

FARMER confidence is at its highest point in five years in Queensland, with good summer rain over central and southern parts of the state as well as the recovery of beef prices having a major influence.

Farmers have also been buoyed by the drop in the Australian dollar, according to the Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey, completed last month.

However large parts of the state, particularly the central west and central north, remain drought-declared with the potential to enter their fourth consecutive dry season.

The Rabobank survey questions an average of 1000 primary producers across a range of commodities and geographical areas across Australia each quarter, with this quarter revealing confidence has rebounded to its highest level since March 2010.

This quarter 41% of respondents expected conditions to improve, up from 30% in the previous quarter, while 37% expected conditions to remain stable.

Those expecting conditions to worsen dropped to 21%, down from 34%.

Brad James, Rabobank state manager for Queensland and Northern Territory, said the "planets had aligned" for many of the state's primary producers in early 2015.

"There is certainly a more positive mood on the ground, compared to the past three or four years," he said. "However, we remain mindful that not everyone has had a break in the season and some areas have had three years of below-par rainfall."

Confidence was strongest in the beef sector, with prices hitting record levels.

"Finished cattle have been making good money, and we have seen cows and calves fetch $1300 to $1400 per unit in certain markets, which is a significant shift from where they have previously been trading," Mr James said.

"Prices in the store market have since come off a little as we are starting to see demand from restockers wane with the lack of rain, however finished cattle are still generating good returns."

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