17 January 2000
Gill slams 100,000 job loss claim

By FWi staff

FARMERS leader Ben Gill has hit out at claims that one in four jobs could be shed in the agriculture industry over the next 10 years.

The National Farmers Union president described the comments by economist Sean Rickard of the Cranfield School of Management as “out of touch” and “insulting”.

Former NFU employee Mr Rickard said on BBC1s Countryfile programme that 100,000 people could lose their jobs in industry restructuring.

Responding on Radio 4s Farming Today programme Mr Gill said: “This is a typical example of an economist whos totally out of touch with the shopfloor.”

Mr Gill said Mr Rickard ignored that 18,000 jobs were lost last year, and did not take into account the intensive labour required in the livestock sector.

The NFU president asked: “Does he expect someone to put in a robot to lamb a ewe, calve a cow or farrow a pig?

“You cant do that sort of thing and thats the nonsense of applying blunt economic principles to agriculture. This is very insulting to people up and down the country.”

Mr Gill declined to make any predictions of his own saying he could not know what exchange rates would be.