FARM INCOMES in the ten new EU member states have rocketed, latest data from EU statistics agency Eurostat has revealed.

While overall income per agricultural worker in the EU-25 improved by just 3% during 2004, in the ten accession countries the increase came to 54%.

The Czech Republic topped the ranking with a massive 108% income gain, followed by Poland at 74%.

“These results are excellent news for European farmers, particularly in the new member states,” said agriculture commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel.

“They show that the concerns voiced by some in the lead-up to enlargement were unfounded.”

The main factors behind the increases were a sharp improvement in market conditions, accounting for around 60 % of the rise, and a boost in the level of public support, making up the rest.

According to Eurostat, subsidies to farmers in the ten new member states increased by 244% to around €3bn (£2.1bn), including national top-ups.

Mrs Fischer Boel also expressed satisfaction that farm incomes had made some improvement in the EU-15, rising 0.8% in 2004.

“I‘m delighted that real farm income in the ‘old’ member states has returned to its long-term upward trend,” she said.

“I am certain that all EU farmers will be able to build on this success as the new CAP reforms come on stream.”

Of the EU-15 countries, the biggest income gains were posted by Germany (+17%) and Denmark (+12%).

The main factor contributing to the increase was the sharp rise in harvest output, notably for the cereal, oilseed, wine, olive oil and potato sectors.

Total volume of crop production rose by 12.5% which outweighed the decrease in real crop prices (-8.4%).

An increase in the real value of animal production was also recorded, in particular for pork and poultry, up 7% and 4% respectively.

These favorable developments more than offset the strong rise in total input costs linked to the sharp increase in oil prices.