Rain challenging farmers

CONFIDENCE was high for Tweed agricultural businesses in the September quarter, but this month’s heavy rainfall has quickly dampened the enthusiasm.

The sixteenth Westpac and Charles Sturt University (CSU) Agribusiness Index showed the region was the second most confident agricultural sector in New South Wales.

The Richmond Tweed region rocketed to a 94 per cent business confidence level from 57 per cent the previous quarter.

It compared well with an 84 per cent confidence rating for the state and 76 per cent across Australia, Westpac regional manager Andrew Davis said.

“New South Wales outperformed every other state this quarter and Richmond-Tweed, with its Economic Performance Indicator (EPI) of +0.24, ranked second of regions in this state,” Mr Davis said.

This year’s rain was the catalyst for the surge in confidence, according to Mr Davis, but unfortunately for many in the Tweed’s agricultural industry, when it rains it pours. Sugarcane growers have been battling to get all the region’s cane harvested as 443.6ml has fallen this month.

“This is the wettest planting season we have had in 35 years, that is why we are struggling a bit at the moment,” Tweed Canegrowers president Robert Quirk said.

Tweed’s canegrowers were trying to retain equity among the growers, with some affected by the wet more than others.

“People still have confidence we will get it out, but it really depends on the weather whether we will be able to do that or not,” Mr Quirk said.

While the sugar price is good, the crop has to be out for the farmers to benefit.

“The price is better, but we do need to get as much of the crop off as possible so the growers have the money in their pockets to grow cane.

“If growers have money they grow more cane.”

Combined Tweed Rural Industry Association president Col Brooks said the region’s fruit and nut growers were also affected.

“People still have confidence we will get out of it.”

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