Another slump in lowland incomes

11 October 2001

Another slump in lowland incomes

By Andrew Shirley

LOWLAND farmers are working for less than one-quarter of the minimum wage after another massive slump in farm incomes, reveal new figures.

The 12th annual study by accountants Deloitte & Touche shows that the average 200ha (500 acres) farm made 2500 for the year ending June 2001.

Combinable-crop producers saw net farm incomes tumble from 115/ha to 70/ha. Dairy and arable farmers suffered losses of 28/ha.

An earlier survey by the firm in conjunction with the Royal Agricultural Society of England showed farmers work an average 70-hour week.

Taken with the income figures, this means many are working for 70p/hour.

Poor yields, lower prices and weakening support payments are all to blame, said Deloitte & Touche agriculture partner Richard Crane.

The results could have been even worse if producers had not cut overheads by 2%, despite a 28% rise in fuel costs and average inflation of 2%.

“I think the industry should be proud of how it has tightened its belt again,” said Mr Crane.

Mark Hill, Deloitte & Touche head of agriculture, said he believed there was scope for cautious optimism despite the gloomy scenario.

“Having tracked the downturn for six years, we believe that farming is at the bottom of a deep tough and net farm incomes will increase in the next year.”


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