Monday, the Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey for New Zealand revealed that sentiment among farmers worsened in the first quarter.

According to the survey, about 33% of farmers expect the economy to worsen in the next 12 months compared to only 29% in the previous survey in November. Moreover, the number expecting the conditions to remain stable declined to 38% from 44% in the previous survey. However, the number of farmers who expect conditions to improve moved up slightly by one percent to 27%.

The survey also showed that the confidence improved among sheep and beef farmers, with 74% expecting conditions to either improve or remain the same, compared to 70% in the November survey. However, confidence among diary farmers remained almost unchanged.

The survey by the Rabobank was conducted among 450 farmers prior to Fonterra's announcement of its latest forecast payouts. The world's largest dairy exporter raised its forecast payout last week to NZ$5.2 a kilo of milk solids from NZ$5.10 earlier.

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