Sixty-eight per cent of sheep and beef farmers surveyed in the August 2018 quarter are confident – the highest level since B+LNZ’s first launched the research in November 2010.
Sheep and beef farmers’ positive mood contrasts with gloomy headlines on business confidence elsewhere in the economy, as well as recent inaccurate claims made by the Productivity Commission about the “marginal” nature of the sector.
For example, while B+LNZ’s recently released New Season Outlook 2018-19 forecasts a slight decrease in inflation-adjusted average sheep and beef farm profit before tax to $97,800 per farm, it is still potentially the fourth highest average farm profit figure since 1990.
B+LNZ Chairman Andrew Morrison says farmers are confident on the back of strong prices and a favourable exchange rate, but there are still plenty of challenging headwinds for the sector.
“While it’s good that our sheep and beef farmers are feeling confident about their future, as an industry we know that we can’t take things like strong prices and a weak New Zealand dollar for granted,” says Mr Morrison.
“Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s recent New Season Outlook may forecast strong prices and the New Zealand dollar to weaken further for the season ahead, but it’s also predicting a slight fall for farm profit as the cost of inputs increase.
“This highlights that while we’re fortunate to be enjoying high prices for our beef, lamb, and mutton at the moment, we need to be mindful that these aren’t guaranteed longer term, even though there are solid indicators that global demand for New Zealand’s sheepmeat and beef will remain strong.”
Some of the headwinds for the sheep and beef sector include the rise of alternative proteins, potential significant regulatory change, growing protectionist practices in key export markets and the uncertainty of Brexit, major droughts in other red meat producing countries, and the impact of Mycoplasma bovis.
“The sheep and beef sector is well positioned to respond to these challenges. We have initiatives such as the Taste Pure Nature country of origin brand which will promote New Zealand’s premium grass-fed red meat overseas, we’re partnering with central and local government to develop better regulations that work for both farmers and New Zealand’s environment, and we’re continuing to work with our farmers to help them improve their environmental performance,” says Mr Morrison.
Confidence levels were broadly similar for both beef and sheep farmers, with 70 per cent of beef farmers and 64 per cent of sheep farmers feeling confident about the sector’s future.
Notes for editors:
B+LNZ commissions UMR Research to survey sheep and beef farmers each quarter to gather a range of confidence and performance indicators, as well as other information to help B+LNZ better understand and support farmers in responding to issues facing the sector.
Sector wide survey results are based on a representative sample of n=770 sheep and beef farmers. At the 95 per cent confidence level the margin of error is ± 3.5 per cent. The data was gathered via a telephone survey which was in the field from 21 August to 2 September 2018.
For more information please contact Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s Senior Communications Advisor Gwynn Compton on 027 838 6353