Ag investment on the rise

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Good conditions are turning into stronger financial choices from farmers Good conditions are turning into stronger financial choices from farmers Good conditions are turning into stronger financial choices from farmers

Australian farmers are planning to invest more in infrastructure and equipment this year, a Commonwealth Bank (CommBank) report says.

Commbank’s Australia-wide ‘Agri Insights’ survey of 1600 farmers shows 25 per cent of farmers plan to increase their investments in plant and equipment in the year ahead, while 36 per cent are planning to spend more on fixed infrastructure.

This is the strongest report, in terms of investment, since the ‘Agri Insights Index’ was launched in 2014.

Across specific fields of work, CommBank says horticulturalists and cotton growers are particularly optimistic with 19 and 18 per cent planning to scale up their operations over the next year.

Fourteen per cent of lamb and beef producers and 10 per cent of summer grain growers are also planning to increase operations over the same period.

CommBank acting executive general manager for regional and agribusiness banking Tim Harvey says good conditions are turning into stronger financial choices from farmers.

"The strong national results are driven largely by good prices and seasonal conditions for producers in New South Wales, South Australia and Queensland," Harvey says.

"We are seeing particular improvements in intentions around summer grain and cotton. It’s encouraging to see fairly positive investment intentions across the board."

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As well as strong investment plans, the survey also revealed a new, shared value across the board for farmers — data sharing.

The report says farmers are seeing the value in sharing production results with their peers, suggesting a move toward interest in the advancement of the industry, rather than a competitive secrecy.

"It’s a real sign of the way Australian farmers view themselves less as competitors with their neighbours and more as part of an Australian agribusiness ecosystem that is working to stay competitive on a global scale," Harvey says.

"Farmers have a strong history of supporting each other and, although technology may change, the principles of collaboration and co-operation endure in the digital age."

The CommBank report finds 58 per cent of surveyed farmers are actively sharing data, while 76 per cent believe it has broad industry value.

Younger farmers are leading the charge for data sharing, with 81 per cent of farmers in the 18-44 year-old age group believing it adds value to the agriculture industry.

"There’s a real sense of anticipation in the industry about where digital technology can take farming and how it can help build connections across the supply chain," Harvey says.

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