• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

Farmers suffering huge fall in average income

SCOTTISH farmers have seen their average income fall by one-third in the last year, according to new figures.

Rising costs for items such as feed, the wettest June on record two years ago and the biting cold and snow that followed early last year have hit farmers in the pocket.

Crops were ruined by too much rain, machinery could not be used and cows could not graze in sodden fields. Livestock also suffered during last year's snow.

Shoppers also face two more years of inflated prices for groceries after the "disastrous" harvest of 2012.

One farmer said yesterday he believed the impact at the supermarket would be slight but could continue for another two years.

The new figures show that the average farm business income was £30,000 over 2012-13, a drop of 34% on the previous year.

The average income is farmers' lowest for four years.

When cash from grants and subsidies were excluded, the average farm made a loss of £16,000 last year, according to data from Scotland's Chief Statistician.

A total of one in five farm ­businesses made a loss.

However, half of all farms received extra income from other sources in 2012-13, with farmers turning to activities such as tourism and recreation - such as hiring out cottages for trekkers - taking contracting work and hosting mobile phone masts on their land.

Of these, it was mobile phone masts and the processing and retailing of farm produce that generated the greatest average incomes, according to the report.

Small to medium scale wind turbines were also cited as new form of income.

Tom French, a dairy farmer in Crawfordjohn, South Lanarkshire, said: "It will make a slight difference to the cost of some (produce) but not a huge difference. It is going to take three or four years to recover."

Jonnie Hall, of the National Farmers' Union Scotland, said: "The influence of the weather over 2012 and 2013 had a huge effect on input costs and yields for farmers in Scotland and the knock-on effect to incomes, while deep and painful, are not a surprise to those in the industry. These figures simply underline the value of ongoing support to active producers."

The report revealed: "With the exception of general cropping farms, all farm types in Scotland have seen a decrease in income in the latest year, with cereal and dairy farms being most severely affected."

It said the amount farmers spent on feed for livestock increased by an average of £6000 last year, rising to £37,000.

Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said: "All the ­indications are that 2013 was a much better year for Scottish agriculture."

However, he said it was particularly concerning that both lowland and upland cattle and sheep farms had suffered "such a significant fall in income".

He added this "highlights how important it is we have the right support in place for our farmers and crofters in the next CAP (Common Agricultural Policy)".

He also highlighted the rising number of dairy cattle in Scotland, saying: "This is a welcome sign of confidence in this sector, which remains one of the most profitable in Scottish farming, and which will provide a solid platform for taking forward the Dairy Growth Strategy commissioned by the Scottish Government."

Liberal Democrat Tavish Scott said the Scottish Government "should be addressing the financial challenge facing Scottish agriculture" instead of "obsessing about independence".

He added: "Farmers and crofters want a government on their side, not one that spends every day working out how to separate Scotland from its largest export market.

"These stark figures show what needs to be addressed especially as crucial decisions over CAP are taken by the SNP Government."

Contextual targeting label: 
Agriculture

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

223417