27 May 1998
Borders farm incomes slashed
BORDERS farmers have suffered huge income cuts, and this has had a knock-on effect for other land-based businesses, according to a survey published yesterday.
The Scottish Agriculture College sent a detailed questionnaire to 1,200 farms with an average size of 372ha (919 acres) to assess the impact of the 1997 trading year. It was commissioned by the Borders area of the National Farmers Union of Scotland, Scottish Borders Enterprise, the Scottish Landowners Federation and Scottish Borders Council.
Most respondents revealed product price reduction of up to 40% and substantial dependence on subsidies. Only 20% indicated they had carried out or were planning some degree of agricultural diversification. Of these, most were looking to reduce the size of livestock enterprises and many were considering a total reduction in the number of cows.
It also revealed poorer returns from agriculture had encouraged 46% of farmers to consider developing non-agricultural income.
The results will be combined with a second survey due to be completed by September to fight for a better deal in the European Unions Agenda 2000 agriculture support reforms. A similar survey is being carried out in south west Scotland.
The Herald 27/05/98 page 21