25 April 2001
Surveyors says 40% may quit farming

by Isabel Davies

RURAL surveyors expect a mass exodus out of the farming industry as a consequence of the foot-and-mouth crisis, according to new research.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors reveals that surveyors expect between 20-40% of farming businesses to cease trading by the end of the year.

A poll of 168 surveyors, who work both in areas affected by foot-and-mouth and non-infected regions, paints a grim picture of the future of the industry.

The survey reveals that three quarters of surveyors in infected areas have experienced a fall in enquiries about farms on the market and instructions to sell.

This is prompting fears that many farms could end up vacant, leading to stagnation of the countryside with knock on effects for rural communities.

Andrew Peterkin, RICS rural faculty chairman said the survey was undertaken to find out exactly what was happening to surveyors and their clients.

“It confirms what many people have been saying,” he said.

“Namely that the rural economy has slowed down dramatically, will continue to slow down and will need considerable assistance to revitalise it.”

The survey includes the finding that one in three firms in infected areas have made staff redundant as business opportunities have dried dry up.

In non-infected areas the figure is one in ten.

Two thirds of firms have reported a decrease in enquiries for residential property and 72% fewer instructions.

Nine out of ten surveyors concluded that the number of applications for farm diversification grants would multiply once the epidemic was over.

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