Farmer confidence is at its lowest level as they brace themselves for a hot, dry summer, a new survey has found.
Rabobank's Rural Confidence Survey found NSW farmer confidence is at the fifth-lowest reading in the its 18-year history.
While confidence remains low, it is still at higher levels than at the height of previous significant droughts.
The quarterly survey, released December 9, found farmer sentiment was low across all surveyed regions and commodity sectors in the state, particularly cotton and grains.
Of the New South Wales farmers surveyed, 55 per cent reported they were expecting agricultural economic conditions to deteriorate in the next 12 months (up from 44 per cent in the previous survey), while 17 per cent believed they would stay the same.
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Only 13 per cent had a positive outlook on the year ahead, compared with 17 per cent in the September quarter.
Rabobank regional manager for Riverina Sally Bull said the much-needed spring downpour across some areas in the state was far from drought-breaking.
"Areas around Bourke recorded their best fall in years, with some receiving up to 100 millimetres, which will go a long way to filling dams and providing some reprieve heading into summer," she said.
Seasonal woes had been further compounded by the recent devastating bushfires, Ms Bull said, with more than 1.5 million hectares affected - including large swathes of farmland.
"While the extent of livestock and infrastructure losses are not yet known, it has been devastating for those who have also lost what little feed they had left," she said.
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"And this severe, and early, start to the bushfire season will certainly weigh further on sentiment in the sector."
By commodity, sentiment was lowest amongst croppers - with 90 per cent of cotton producers and 60 per cent of grain growers reporting a negative view on the coming 12 months.
The survey, completed in November, showed confidence had also dropped away in the grains sector, with little in-crop rainfall.