One in four farming families is living in poverty, according to government figures obtained by the Conservatives.


Some 25% of farm households in England were below the modified low income threshold in 2007-08 – the last year for which figures are available.

The statistic measures gross income before housing costs.

Shadow farm minister Jim Paice said: “There is no more important industry than the production of food but these figures show how tough life is for many farmers.

“Despite welcome increases in incomes large numbers of farm businesses are barely breaking even as the costs and regulatory burdens imposed by Government increase.

“In recent years thousands of farmers have quit the industry, weakening our supply base and leaving us more reliant on imports of food we could produce ourselves.

“Our agricultural industry is a national asset but too often under the current Government farmers have been undervalued and undermined.”

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