Slim Scots sale figures bode ill

27 August 1999

Slim Scots sale figures bode ill

TWO livestock sales in south-west Scotland in the past week have illustrated the growing crisis facing not only farmers but whole rural communities, according to Scottish NFU president Jim Walker.

At the end of the auctions of Scotch Mule ewe lambs at Thornhill and Castle Douglas, £700,000 less than last year had been returned to farmers.

"That is money that has disappeared from our rural economy. Every seller has suffered. But it is only when the figures are grossed up that you begin to see the real disaster," said Mr Walker, who farms beef cattle and sheep in the area.

"I took a hit of £9000 last Friday at the sale in Thornhill. I went home and made a man redundant. It wasnt something I enjoyed, but it had to be done. Others will follow the same route but most will already have cut farm staff to the bare minimum and will not be able to make such savings," he said.

"We are talking about the effect of just two sales. What are the figures going to be at the end of the autumn sales?

It must also be remembered that there is a multiplier, accepted by the Scottish Office, that every £1 going into agriculture creates £2.50 in the rural economy. That means that the real loss from these two sales is approaching £2m in Dumfries and Galloway where agriculture is responsible for nearly 30% of total output.

"The effects of the crisis in farming are clear to see. I was talking to a machinery salesman who said that, for the first time in 14 years, he had not put in an order last week, not even for a brush shank," Mr Walker added.

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