KEY rural indicators point to a rebound across major markets that is expected to boost confidence and investment, says Neil Clark Business Intelligence, which provides performance analysis for banks and rural institutions.
Neil Clark, principal, said serious drought and debt problems in northern Australia, highlighted by a rise in foreclosures, had overshadowed rising production, falling debt and growing confidence across most of the rest of the country.
"There are a lot of myths out there," said Mr Clark, who has been analysing the market conditions for 25 years.
"Queensland has been facing stress but the rest of the country has been in great form."
The rural industry was "on a cusp of a buying and investment spree" based on record levels of savings, adequate water supplies and robust demand, he said.
Fears about the rising median age of farmers over-stated the demographic threat because it failed to acknowledge the prospects of an emerging "young, dynamic" generation.
But many farmers, particularly in the central wheat belt in south-west Australia, were less sanguine about prospects and warn that this weekend's forecast rains could make a big difference in output.
"It's a mixed bag," said Jeff Hooper, a wheat farmer and spokesman for the Muntadgin Farming Alliance, who claimed eroding profits, rather than reduced output, was the key issue.
Farm debt, foreclosures, profitability and output would be discussed at a rural debt round table being held in Canberra by the federal government later this month.
Mr Clark said farm management deposits, which allowed pre-tax income to be set aside in years of high income to be drawn on in lean years, was at a record high of more than $4 billion, a rise of more than 10 per cent from last year.
In addition, dams were near full in key rural regions for cotton, rice, horticulture and dairy, which "should lead to another good harvest," he said.
The farm debt-to-income ratio, the percentage of a consumer's monthly gross income that went toward paying debts and an important barometer of economic health, was back to pre-global financial crisis levels.
"Positive seasonal conditions in the south and west should lead to another good harvest," he said.