30 June 1995

UK producers gain from stagnant incomes in Europe

STAGNANT EU farm incomes benefited British farmers, Prof John Nix told delegates at a Highland Show seminar.

Although UK farm incomes had increased over the past two years, that trend had not been mirrored throughout the EU. And while UK farm size had doubled since 1940, the same had not happened in other member states.

"That is good news for UK farmers because other EU governments will resist anything that might cause a drop in prices while their farm incomes remain low."

Prof Nix, of London Universitys Wye College, added that any further changes to the CAP were difficult to foresee when the EU farm commissioner Franz Fischler kept saying he was not in the business of "reforming the reforms".

Prof Nix predicted different degrees of success for UK farmers. He said the outlook for cereals was very good, and moderate for combineable breaks and for mixed cropping.

The future for UK dairy farmers was described as fair. "The milk price has had a boost that cant be sustained because of GATT and industry cutbacks," said Prof Nix. But he remained confident that milk quotas would remain well beyond 2000.

"If quotas were removed then prices would have to drop by 25% just to keep volumes down," he said. Quotas had become a considerable asset to farmers, so removing them would demand some form of compensation.

There would be no change in the fortunes of beef and sheep producers, he said. They would continue to reap little reward for their efforts unless they were outstanding managers with outstanding stock.