The economic environment for European farmers continues to improve according to the results of the DLG Trend Monitor survey for Europe conducted this autumn by the DLG in conjunction with Europe's leading agricultural market think tank, the Kleffmann Group(Lüdinghausen/Westphalia).
The Trend Monitor survey found a clear upward trend compared to the 2010 spring survey, both in the assessment of the current business climate and expectations for the future. Around 3,500 farmers in Germany, France, the UK, Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary took part in the survey.
Planned increase in capital spending
"The economic environment for Europe's farmers has continued to improve,” according to Dr Achim Schaffner, Head of Agricultural Economics at the DLG. "Farm managers rate the economic situation of their farms even more favourably now than in spring 2010." The improved economic climate has led to an increase in planned investment, particularly in France and the UK: in France the willingness to invest rose from 13 per cent to 20 per cent, in the UK from 46 per cent to 56 per cent.
In Germany, investment intentions remain stable, with every second farmer planning to invest. The DLG Trend Monitor also shows that the investment focus has shifted back to the core sectors of indoor and field operations since the spring survey, with a slight decrease in bioenergy. This is a reaction to changes in the price-cost ratio caused by the extraordinary weather over the summer and its effect on the price of agricultural products.
For the first time, the focus of investment in the Czech Republic is on animal husbandry: 45 per cent of the farmers surveyed were planning to invest in livestock. In contrast, investment confidence among Polish and Hungarian farmers is rather muted, despite expectations of an upturn in business.
Livestock farmers assess business climate more positively
In Germany, livestock farmers' assessment of the current business climate and their expectations for the future of the industry have improved markedly. Dairy farmers now regard the current business climate as significantly better than in spring (2.9 points compared to 3.4 points). Expectations for the future are even more positive (2.7 points compared to 3.4 points). The assessment of the current business climate among pig farmers has also improved slightly (2.8 points compared with 2.92 points in spring), but their assessment of future business prospects has not changed since the spring.
Farmers in France, the UK, Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary are also expecting business to improve. This represents a turnaround in sentiment, particularly in France (improved from 3.7 points in spring 2010 to 3.1 points in autumn 2010).