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SA farmers less optimistic than minister: survey

South Australian farmers may be sitting on $3 billion farm gate value return at half-time in the financial year but a major rural banker says they're pessimistic.

The latest State Government Crop and Pasture Report report outlines that despite challenging weather periods in the back end of 2021, grain production is estimated to be 7.72 million tonnes, mirroring the 10-year average of 7.75 million tonnes.

Primary Industries minister David Basham lauded the state of farming in South Australia despite a middling crop estimate in a release issued on Tuesday.

“We are seeing some of the highest price returns in Australia for canola, both GM and non-GM, wheat and barley, right here in South Australia and this is just reward for the hard work farmers have put in this year.”

However, a report also issued on Tuesday by Rabobank surveying farmers indicated that on the ground, farmers were less optimistic than the minister. Rabobank’s regional manager for South Australia Roger Matthews highlighted that inconsistent rainfall across the spring period was a key factor for displeased farmers as 2021 rounds to a close.

“We saw good winter rainfall across much of South Australia and then missed out on September and October rain, with the recent rainfalls in November being generally too late to help grain growers.”
“Patchy seasonal conditions in the Eyre Peninsula have seen just nine per cent of farmers in the region now expecting conditions to improve, which is down from 53 per cent with that view in the September quarter.”
“Areas such as the Mallee and Murraylands have received very little rain and as a result we will see some poor crops from these parts of South Australia.”

Minister Basham had a different take on the impact rains had on the harvest:

“Cool conditions and regular rain delays during October and November slowed early harvest progress but we are now in full swing and about halfway complete across the state.”
“The (government) report highlights that despite the mixed weather conditions this year with late opening rains followed by a wet mid-winter, a dry late winter and stormy wet October finish, indications are that crops have grown well mostly due to deep soil moisture stored from June and July rains.”
“While winter frost and the spring storm events on 28 October and 6 November have caused some grain losses, the report has surprisingly found that rain associated with the storm systems increased the yield prospect of undamaged ripening crops.”

The Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey published findings that just 26 per cent of South Australian farmers expect that conditions will pick up in 2022, nearly halving the figure from the previous quarter's report.

Additionally, the survey found 15 per cent of workers in the industry are anticipating conditions in the field to worsen in the coming year.


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