In a recently concluded survey encompassing more than 1000 dairy, sheep, beef, and arable farmers, it has been revealed that confidence within the agricultural sector has plummeted to unprecedented depths.
Federated Farmers President Wayne Langford emphasised the gravity of the situation.
"Farmers are dealing with a lot at the moment with high-interest rates, huge inflation and a steep decline in both meat and milk prices they receive for their products," he said.
"We're also facing an unprecedented level of regulatory change that is heaping on costs, undermining profitability and creating huge uncertainty for farmers."
Langford expressed his concerns for the well-being of farmers and the far-reaching implications and suggested the ramifications of low confidence extend beyond individual farmers to impact families, rural communities and the broader New Zealand economy.
"When farmers aren't profitable or feeling confident, they stop spending money and try to cut any costs they can from their business and the implications of that flow right through the economy."
Conducted in July 2023, the Farmer Confidence survey starkly reflected the distressing situation, a situation further exacerbated by Fonterra's recent announcement, slicing $1 from their projected milk price for 2023/24.
The survey revealed that farmers' foremost concerns revolved around debt, interest rates, banking challenges, regulatory and compliance expenses, as well as the pressing issue of climate change and ETS policy.
It is the second consecutive farmer confidence survey to reach an all-time low, showing a precipitous decline over the past six months and Langford believes the situation must be addressed.
"This should serve as a wake-up call for all political parties, banks and processors that something needs to urgently change.
"There needs to be a real focus on reducing the costs and uncertainty farmers are facing."