15 June 1999
‘Farmers must brush up business skills’

FARMERS will have to become effective businessmen if they are to survive, according to Alex Allison, vice-chairman of the National Farmers Union of Scotlands Clyde & Forth Valley region.

He told a meeting called to launch a study into the economic impact of agriculture in Lanarkshire that farmers would in future understand how to make their businesses work in the prevailing conditions.

The study, conducted by the Scottish Agricultural College, paints a dismal picture of the industry.

The workforce is revealed as becoming increasingly old while at the same time declining in numbers. Restructuring is seen as inevitable, and has already begun to take place in the dairy industry.

A trend is confirmed towards bigger herd sizes but the outlook for the sector is poor. Dairy units once expected gross profits of £50,000 in 1995, but this had fallen to just £5400 last year.

The study recommends a number of initiatives to combat the decline. These include marketing initiatives, such as developing organic production as well as specialised training to provide business training.

There is also a call for re-skilling opportunities so that farmers and farm workers can compete for alternative jobs on a full or part-time basis.

  • The Herald 15/06/99 page 24