ON a family farm, everybody chips in and helps when there’s
work to be done. But just how much is that labour worth?
For the first time, the beef and sheep industries have
come together to identify a representative cost for unpaid family
labour on a standardised basis across Great Britain. The figure
of £11.18 an hour is the result.
The project was co-ordinated by the Meat and Livestock Commission
(MLC) and funded by the English Beef and Lamb Executive (EBLEX),
Hybu Cig Cymru/Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) and Quality Meat Scotland
(QMS), with involvement from industry organisations across the
MLC Policy Advisor Stephen Rossides said: “This is a vital
piece of work in the market-led, post-subsidy world in which our
farmers now operate, and it provides a 2006 benchmark for the industry
which can be adjusted to account for inflation and other factors
in the future.
“The study revealed that while different farms used different
amounts of family labour, however much was used it was still a
“For our farming industry to be competitive and have a sustainable
future these hidden costs must be quantified and recovered in what
is paid at the farm gate.”
The survey showed some 60 per cent of farmer time was in manual
or semi-skilled tasks, with the remainder on management or skilled
tasks. On average, farmers only took between seven and eight days
holiday a year.
A copy of the survey report ‘Identifying the Costs of Unpaid
Family Labour on Cattle and Sheep Farms’ is available to
download from www.mlc.org.uk
The survey itself was of 318 beef and sheep farmers and was carried
out by Promar International. An independent human resources specialist
then conducted the comparative analysis where the set of skills
needed to run an efficient farm was compared with comparable jobs
in other industries and corresponding salary levels identified.
To arrive at a total, additional on-costs such as national Insurance
and pension provisions should be added.
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