Fed up and ready to get out

26 February 1999

Fed up and ready to get out

PERTHSHIRE farmer Eric Haggart reckons this could be his final year of farming. He is despondent about the viability of his 200ha (500 acres) at Baillielands and is fed up working for no return.

"Selling up is not an option but I will be looking at renting out the land after this harvest," he says. "Im going about the daily chores as I have for the past 25 years but without great enthusiasm. I realise there is little I can do to influence returns and I struggle to see any improvement in farming fortunes.

"You cant keep on farming for nothing. We are mainly arable but we also have 300 ewes and it is a seven days a week job for a modest salary and a business which is losing money. There is no sense in that. It is impossible to justify doing a reasonable job of farming and seeing resources being eroded year after year.

"We invested in new machinery and equipment in the early 90s, ploughing back the profits that were there in those years. But now it would be madness to invest £40,000 in a new grain store – which is really what the farm needs."

He would have no worries about stepping out of farming and going into another business like landscape gardening or fencing.

"There are always openings and this is definitely crunch year as far as farming is concerned."

He looks back to before 1991 when the farm was all arable. "There was time for maintenance, time for some leisure and sport. But now it seems to be nose to the grindstone all the time. I looked at selling my 420 units of sheep quota but was offered only £16. If I could get £20, I would sell."

"Going to maximum 50% set-aside of the arable land is another option. We are already doing more contracting work because we have modern machinery. That might expand further.

"Farmers get pleasure from growing a good crop or producing quality animals. But there is no enjoyment when those products fetch loss-making prices and you are constantly aware that only subsidies are keeping things going. That is an unhealthy state for any industry," Mr Haggart says.

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