10 January 2001
Thousands leave Welsh farming

By FWi staff

WELSH farming has lost more than 10% of its workforce in two years as the crisis in the sector continues to take its toll, government figures reveal.

The Agricultural and Horticultural Census shows that, in June 2000, the total labour force in Wales stood at 55,700, including 43,400 farmers and 12,000 workers.

This is down 6300 from the total figure of 62,000 recorded in June 1998.

Proportionally, agricultural workers fared worst in the year to June 2000, with 18% leaving the land.

There was an 8% decline in the number of full-time farmers, but this was offset by a 6% increase in part-time farmers.

Farmers taking a second job to supplement falling farm incomes may explain this trend.

These statistics follow depressing figures the previous year which saw full-time farmer numbers fall by 5% and farmworker numbers by 10%.

National Farmers Union chief economist Son Roberts said: “Agriculture is vital to the Welsh economy.

“To lose 13% of full-time farmers and almost 30% of labourers from the industry in only two years is meltdown.”

The census also revealed that salaried manager numbers fell by 54% to around 400, and numbers of seasonal labourers dropped by 21% to 5200.