Nearly a third of farmers are living below the low income threshold, according to the Conservative Party.

Figures, revealed in a parliamentary question, showed that in 2005/06 nearly 1 in 3 farmers had an income that was 60% or less than the national average wage.

The average income for everyone in the farming industry has fallen from nearly £28,000 in 1996 to less than £14,000 in 2006 and almost 80,000 people have left the agricultural labour force

The figures also showed that farmers were much more likely to live on a low wage than all other households.

Only 21% of other employed households and 18% of self-employed were in the same position.

Jim Paice, shadow agriculture minister, said: “This is a sad indictment of 10 years of a Labour government which has brought a once proud industry to the situation where one-third of farmers live below the low-income threshold.

“This won’t be a surprise to those who have suffered but will hopefully bring home to the general public the desperate straits of the farming industry and those who produce our food.”

Read ‘Struggling farmers in grip of worst-ever crisis’ in the Daily Express.