30 November 2000
Labour blamed for income slump
By FWi staff
THE government has been told to accept responsibility for a “soul-destroying” 27% fall in farm incomes announced by agriculture minister Nick Brown.
After another year of misery, the National Farmers Union said that most people in the industry would not be surprised at the statistics.
Sterlings strength, which has hurt British exports and sucked in imports of food, is the primary cause of the slump, said NFU president Ben Gill.
“It is soul-destroying … The government must face up to the fact that its economic policy is responsible for this.”
Total income from farming fell to 1.71 billion this year from 2.40bn in 1999, according to provisional government statistics on Thursday (30 November).
Average income per head from farming is forecast to fall to 7500 from 10,400 in 1999. Before the BSE crisis in 1996, incomes were nearer 25,000.
Mr Brown said that Sterlings strength was mainly to blame. But higher fuel and fertiliser prices and the autumn floods added to farmers problems, he added.
“The government understands the gravity of the situation and is committed to ensuring that the agriculture industry emerges stronger from the crisis,” he said.