31 January 2000
More farm jobs to go, warns NFU
By FWi staff
THOUSANDS more job losses are likely in the agricultural sector following a further slump in farm incomes, the National Farmers Union has warned.
Farm incomes have plummeted by an average of 16% over the past year, according to new statistics collected for the Ministry of Agriculture.
The National Farmers Union admitted that thousands of job losses were likely as a result of what it claims is farmings worst crisis for 70 years.
The union already estimates that more than 22,000 jobs have been lost across the UK in the past year – equivalent to one in 12 farm workers.
Ben Gill, NFU president, said: “We fear that many more will have gone since then as a result of these dismal figures.”
Figures derived from the UK Farm Business Survey estimate that incomes for general cropping farms will have fallen by 48% in the year to February 2000.
Hill-farm incomes are expected to have dropped by 25% and dairy-farm incomes are forecast to have fallen by 21% over the same period.
Pig and poultry farmers are expected to have lost an average of 8000 per farm over the past 12 months, compared with a loss of almost 14,700 in 1998.
But updated income figures for 1999 – which showed that incomes stayed the same compared with 1998 – gave “false hope” to the industry, said Mr Gill.
Farmers believe the downward slide of farmings fortunes has been caused by the strength of Sterling, which last week saw the Pound climb to DM3.25.
“Sterlings gravity-defying rise in the last quarter has pushed down prices, with a critical impact on farm incomes,” said Mr Gill.
“This factor – which is not reflected in the overall farm income figures – is the first measurable indication we have had of the dire effect of Sterling.
“The continuing recession in the farming industry compares starkly against the economic recovery which is taking place in the rest of the UK.”