06 November 1998
Scots farmers face prospect of zero income

AVERAGE net farm income in Scotland could be cut to zero if output figures for Scottish farms fall by a further 10% this year, claims a leading industry analyst.

More farms were in severe financial difficulty and facing pressure from banks, said Jim Seton, head of the Scottish Agricultural Colleges farm and rural business division.

Many farms and crofts with little or no borrowing were also facing income levels which could no longer support the workforce – either family or employed.

Mr Seton was speaking at the launch of restructured support services for the industry.

At the same meeting, Professor Phil Thomas, principal of the Scottish Agricultural College (SAC), said once businesses began to collapse there would probably be a domino effect which would affect not only farmers.

He pointed out that, when New Zealand farming was restructured on a no-subsidy basis, about 10% of farmers went out of business, but more than 40% of the supply industry disappeared.

SAC is launching select services in three areas – business, potatoes and dairy.

Jimmy Goldie, SAC dairy services manager, estimated that an average dairy farmer subscriber taking advantage of two modules – possibly stock management and grassland management – could pay fees of about £800.

The dairy select service will be delivered by eight regional dairy specialists throughout Scotland.

The business division will give advice on budgets, financial analysis and record keeping as well as personal finance issues such as pension provision.

The potato service will offer detailed advice through the growing process and subsequent storage.

  • The Herald 06/11/98 page 27