19 May 2000
South-west farm incomes down 28%

By FWi staff

SOUTH-WEST farmers net profits have fallen by as much as 28% in the past year, but prospects may improve in the next 12 months, claims a new survey.

A survey by Exeter University projected a fourth successive decline, with lowland livestock farmers making on average a profit of only 5200.

With the exception of cropping, which show an 8% profit increase, declines are shown for all sectors including a massive 28% fall for specialist dairy farmers.

But report author, senior agricultural economist Martin Turner, predicts this downward trend could be halted for 2000-01.

Mr Turner believes prices will remain stable or increase slightly in most sectors, although he remains worried by the plight of dairy farmers.

“There is some evidence that given good growing weather and an easing of Sterling there will not be further falls in 2000-01,” he said.

However, Mr Turner said variables such as the weather made it impossible to say if there would be significant increases.

Projections for change in net profits for 1999-2000 are;

  • Specialist dairy 13,000 (-28% on 1998-99);
  • Mainly dairy 30,100 (-7%);
  • Lowland livestock 5,200 (-22%);
  • Hill livestock 13,400 (-17%); and
  • Mainly cropping 15,900 (+8%).

The survey, Farm Facts 2000, took a sample of 350 farmers in the south west and based its predictions on price indices and local knowledge.

  • Copies of the report are available from Exeter University and from sponsors the NatWest bank