11 September 1998

Incomes poor despite second jobs

AN NFU survey of young hill farmers in the west midlands has revealed that 61% earn less than £10,000 a year despite almost half having a second job to boost incomes.

Second jobs ranged from bus driving to bar tending and 94% of respondents said low income was a major hurdle to the future of hill farming. Only 22% believed they could afford to stay in business.

The farmers surveyed, all under 40 years old, live and work in the less favoured areas of Salop, Staffs, Derbys and Herefords.

Claire Robinson, NFU West Midlands policy adviser, said: "Young farmers are scraping a living from the hills and many cannot afford to carry on. If they give up there is no-one to take their place. This then begs the worrying question who will look after the hills?"

Farmers blamed the strong £ and the lack of interest paid by the government in maintaining a viable hill farming industry, she added. &#42