23 April 1999

Data shows EU farm income fall in 1998

PIG producing countries led the fall in EU farm incomes in 1998, according to newly-published figures from Brussels statistics body, Eurostat.

Denmark suffered the greatest drop of 18%, closely followed by the UK, at 16%, and Holland, at 12%. Most other member states also saw a reduction in farm profits, with the exceptions of France (+1%), Germany (+1%) and Luxembourg (+2%).

3.9% overall decline

Overall, the EU of 15 suffered a 3.9% decline in farm incomes, following on from the 2.6% fall in 1997. "But this should be viewed against three years of appreciable growth, which reached its highest level for 20 years in 1996," said a spokesman.

Eurostat is offering two main reasons for the downturn.

Average farm-gate prices dropped 5% throughout the EU last year, hitting the value of output. Pig farmers bore the brunt of the market collapse, with a massive 27% price fall, while livestock farmers in general saw 13% trimmed from their receipts. In addition, the value of direct subsidies to farmers throughout the EU fell by over 6% in 1998. These losses were only partly offset by a 1.5% increase in arable and livestock production, and a 1.7% drop in the use of farm labour, notes Eurostat.

Despite the downward trend, the analysis shows that, for the EU as a whole, farm incomes are still some 12% above 1990 levels in real terms. But following three years of adverse currency movement, depressed commodity prices and falling subsidy values, UK farm incomes are now 20% below their 1990 levels.

lEU young farmers group, CEJA, is urging Brussels regulators to take the latest income figures into account when finalising the details of the Agenda 2000 reforms. "Certain sectors have been especially hard hit over the last year," said CEJA president, Arnold Puech dAlissac. "Unless urgent measures are taken to protect those young farmers who have invested heavily in their businesses and who are still losing money, we will lose these young people from farming." &#42