15 June 2001
Farmers almost on minimum wage

By James Garner

MANY farmers are working harder for little more than the governments national minimum wage, according to the results of a new survey.

Most now work a 70-hour week for just 4.70 an hour – just 60p above the minimum wage which rises to 4.10 in October.

The study Cost of your time – making the most of it was conducted by accountants Deloitte & Touche and the Royal Agricultural Society of England.

Data showed that 300 farmers on mainly mixed farms spent their day mostly working horrendous hours for very little financial reward.

Alan Spedding of RASE told a press briefing in Cambridge that farmers were working longer hours because there were now fewer full-time labourers.

The number of farmworkers is 26% lower than five years ago. But while farmers are working harder, they might not be more productive.

Only 42% of an average farmers day was spent on hands-on farm work.

Farmers spend 19% of their time on administration; 16% on planning; 6% on personal development; 3% on buying and selling; and 10% on other activities.

“The challenge must be to help farmers work smarter rather than harder,” said Mr Spedding. “Despite long hours, few felt they were on top of their jobs.

“Many said they were just fire-fighting, dashing from one crisis to another.”

Richard Crane of Deloitte and Touche said farmers should identify the jobs they do best in their business and pay others to do the rest.