Farmers are feeling a little better about the year to come, according to the latest Rabobank rural confidence survey.
However, confidence remains in negative territory for the fourth consecutive quarter.
The survey in late November – before Fonterra lifted the milk price to farmers – shows 31 per cent of farmers expected the rural economy to worsen over the coming year, down from 44 per cent last survey and up from 12 per cent at the same time last year.
Only 18 per cent expect an improvement versus 33 per cent last year, although this is a slight lift from 15 per cent expecting an improvement since the September survey.
Sheep and beef farmers were more pessimistic than dairy farmers.
Rabobank New Zealand chief executive Ben Russell said the survey results were not surprising given ongoing uncertainty in the global economy and the high New Zealand dollar were hurting farm gate prices.
However, those expecting an improvement in the agricultural economy mentioned also the drought in the US and globally tight food supplies as having positive flow-on effects for New Zealand exporters.