14 February 2000
Potatoes escape industry decline

OUTPUT from every major agricultural product with the exception of potatoes declined between 1998 and 1999, notes Jimmy McClean, head of agricultural services at the Royal Bank of Scotland, in an analysis of the industry.

Taking the total income from farming indicators, figures used by the ministry of agriculture, he notes that costs have now been firmly squeezed on feedstuffs, fertilisers and seeds.

But there were costs outside the farmers control that outweighed the savings made through improved efficiency. These included fuel and oil prices and staff costs.

McClean makes a poor prognosis of future prospects. The weakness of the euro will translate to a further reduction in support payments over commodity prices.

Other factors expected to play a depressing part include inflationary pressures on overhead costs and rising interest rates.