14 October 1999
Farm income ‘worst for 10 years‘

INCOME on the average farm is the worst for a decade, after dropping £20,000 in the last year, according to figures just published.

Accountancy firm Deloitte & Touche believes the situation will get even worse next year, predicting this years £17,000 profit will slump to a £10,000 loss.

These figures are based on an average 300ha family farm.

Mark Hill, Deloitte & Touche agricultural partner, told the Radio 4 Farming Today programme that this masks even gloomier figures.

“These dont take into account unpaid family labour and the opportunity cost of land and the working capital in there.”

He said the situation would not be viable for farmers in the worst situation. “Those at the bottom either have to get efficient or get out.”

Mr Hill said farmers in the east had fared better than livestock farmers in the west.

He questioned how the landscape would be affected by a mass exodus from loss-making areas. While the houses would be sold, Mr Hill feared for the land.

“If farmers do get out, what happens to those farms? Im very confident if farms in the West Country are abandoned, they will stay abandoned.”

He added that it was unlikely land value would fall in the short term because wealthier farmers would drive up auction prices.