By FWi staff

WELSH farmers have had another tough year, according to figures from the University of Wales latest Farm Business Survey in Wales.

Compiled by the universitys Institute of Rural Studies, the report is based on 625 Welsh farms with account years ending between September 1999 and April 2000.

Although the results are varied, lowland farms have tended to fare better than hill farms. Size has also been an important factor.

All categories of hill farm have seen a drop in net farm income.

Cattle and sheep farms are the worst affected with an average income of only 1901; the smallest had an income of -892.

Sheep-only hill farms have also suffered. The biggest managed to raise their net farm income by a modest 2207, but on average incomes dropped by 682.

However, net farm income for large hill and upland dairy farms has risen by 28%, although across the sector average incomes fell by 12%.

Both the lowland dairy and the lowland beef and sheep sectors saw a small increase in average net farm income of just over 1600.

However, the smallest cattle and sheep producers had negative farm incomes for the second year running.

T N Jenkins, director of the institutes farm business survey unit, says Welsh farmers will have to tighten their belts even more, but notes they can only be tightened so far.

“Many of the smaller dairy farmers have already left the industry.”