6 June 1997

SW produces 15% less beef

CATTLE output in south-west England fell by £60m or 15% due to the BSE crisis, Exeter University figures show.

The fall in beef output is equivalent to 4% of total agricultural output in the region in the 1996/97 financial year.

Martin Turner, Exeter Univer-sity economist, told a conference at the Bath and West Show that he estimated between 1000 and 1500 jobs would be lost.

He reported income reductions across all sectors, except pigs and poultry, for the year ending spring 1997. The biggest change was a drop of 36% in net farm income on mainly cropping farms, followed by a 21% drop on lowland beef and sheep farms. Hill livestock farms recorded a drop of 3% on the year.

The figures also confirmed the very low return on tenants capital in both hill (1.2%) and lowland (0.8%) livestock farms in the 1995/96 year. Best return was 18.8% on mainly arable farms, followed by 14.9% on mainly dairy farms, and 10.6% on specialist dairy farms.