4 September 2000
Barley barons arent rich, says Gill

by Alistair Driver

THE idea that cereal producers are the wealthiest farmers is being consigned to history as grain prices plummet, the National Farmers Union has warned.

Ben Gill, NFU president, prices have fallen to 1975 levels of around 60 per tonne well below the cost of production estimated to be

This is compounded by reduced subsidies, rising production costs and swingeing deductions if consignments miss contract specifications, he said.

All of these factors have come together to cause enormous concern for the sector and to create a situation that is not sustainable, said Mr Gill.

Between June 1998 and 1999 the arable sector lost 3,500 jobs and unless things change more will follow, he added.

Mr Gill was speaking prior to an NFU cereal summit that he will chair on Thursday (7 September) in London.

Representatives from across the cereal industry will discuss how the government can help the industry and how trading practices can be improved.

We will be bringing the key players of the sector together to explode the myth that the rich barley barons of East Anglia are the typical cereal farmer.

Mr Gill said the strength of sterling which he said was over-valued by about 25% had driven down cereal prices and support payments.

He said the government could alleviate this by claiming an extra 91m available to UK farmers from Brussels to offset the strong Pound.

Fertiliser prices, which have risen from 80/tonne to 125/t in the past year, are pushing costs up at an alarming rate, he added.

Fuel costs, which have doubled over the past year, have devastated farmers in some parts of the country where the harvest was dogged by wet weather.