Farm crisis deepens, say new reports

13 September 1999

Farm crisis deepens, say new reports

THE financial crisis in livestock farming is deepening and has now spread to the arable sector, according a number of new reports released on Monday.

Hill farmers relying mainly on sheep and cattle for a living, have seen incomes drop so heavily over the past year that they are now “an endangered species”.

Upland producers are suffering even greater financial losses than in 1997-98, one of the worst years on record, according to the National Farmers Union.

Thousands of farmers are close to breaking point, says the NFU report, titled Endangered — a review of upland farming.

Many older farmers have no planned successors, largely because few young people see any point in enduring the lifestyle for little financial reward, claims the union.

The Daily Telegraph, which reports on the crisis, says even farmers in what has been one of the richest arable areas of Britain are feeling the pinch.

It cites another report by the accountants Larking Gowen which shows that most farmers in East Anglia had half their profits wiped out last year.

Many farmers in the region are poised to plunge deeper in debt to the banks, according to the accountants who scrutinised the books of 86 farms in East Anglia.

Only a quarter of those producers — growing potatoes, which fetched high prices last year — were spared the worst of the slump.

In a third report, FPD Savills, the property consultants, calculated that total income from British farming fell far more last year than experts originally believed.

Savills believes that farm incomes fell by 68% between 1995 and 1998 rather than the 58% first estimated.

A further survey by the Womens Food and Farming Union shows that nearly 50% of farmers wives have extra jobs outside the farm.

But this is still not enough “to balance the books” at home, the union warns.

See more