Nearly one-third of farmers are planning on increasing investment in the next year, according to the results from a Bank of Ireland Agri Pulse survey. It reveals a broadly positive feeling among farmers in April 2017.

Production expectations are higher compared to those in August 2016, when the survey was last carried out. The outlook for market prices is also more positive than that of last year.

While the majority of farmers expect Brexit to have a negative impact on their business, 29% of farmers are planning on increasing investment on-farm in the next 12 months; and 45%, of the 250 farmers surveyed, have ambitions to expand over the next one to three years.

The survey findings also show that younger farmers tend to be more positive, and the dairy sector is generally the most optimistic.

Dr. Loretta O’Sullivan, Group Chief Economist, Bank of Ireland commented: “A sense of cautious optimism comes through in the latest Agri Pulse survey findings, though Brexit is clearly a worry for farmers.”

Half of farmers reported an increase in input costs – excluding labour – over the past 12 months.

Land and labour shortages were highlighted by dairy farmers as key factors impacting their production. In the other sectors, cashflow was the main reason given.

Regarding investment plans, the results show that 29% expect to increase investment in the farm over the next 12 months, with dairy farmers leading the charge. Plans are centred on replacing and maintaining worn-out buildings, equipment and vehicles; and purchasing livestock. The majority expect to spend up to €50,000.

In the Agri Pulse survey, most farmers indicated that output was either up or unchanged over the past 12 months.

Younger farmers, in particular, are looking to expand over the next one to three years. One in three farmers surveyed plan on remaining the same size. 20% of those surveyed – mainly older farmers – intend to scale down. This figure is up from 13% in August 2016.

According to Bank of Ireland, its Agri Pulse survey provides an “insight” into issues and trends in the agri-sector.