The Scottish Government has published its annual farm income
figures, which paint a mixed picture across the various sectors
of the industry.
NFU Scotlandís Vice-President, Stewart Wood
The cereal and milk sectors show improved returns but the picture
is much bleaker across the livestock sectors. The Union has also
emphasised that the figures were calculated prior to the huge
rises in inputs costs - particularly animal feed, fuel and fertiliser – in
the latter half of 2007 and start of this year.
Commenting on the figures, NFU Scotland’s Vice-President,
Stewart Wood said:
“We still have question marks over the accuracy of farm
incomes as a measure of individual farm profitability. But as
an overall barometer of what happened between the end of 2006
and first half of 2007, they look pretty close to the mark. However,
as we all know, the world has moved on significantly since then.
“For first time in a decade, cereal prices - driven by
increasing global consumption and tight supplies - returned to
a more sustainable level. That must be maintained.
“There was a hugely important turnaround in the farmgate
milk price, although still too late for many farmers who have
quit. However, what is not reflected in these figures is the
astronomical rise in production costs over the last few months.
Fuel pries are at a record high and fertiliser prices have almost
doubled. The cost of replacement dairy heifers has also soared.
Remarkably, there is mounting evidence that the 7-8 pence farmgate
price rise has almost been entirely eroded by increased costs.
“The figures do highlight the serious financial plight
in the red meat sector and that is without incorporating the
foot and mouth period. Whilst the sheep market has picked up
since its FMD-related collapse we are still seeing breeding flocks
disappearing off the hills in alarming numbers. The same trend
is being seen across the suckler cow and sow herds.
“Supermarkets are sleep walking into a supply problem
and that is hugely concerning to us and should also be a major
worry for consumers. We saw the problem materialise in the dairy
industry last year and it is now happening in the red meat sector.
Food production is not a tap to be turned on and off, it is a
long-term business. Unless the supply chain breaks out of its
short-term thinking, consumer choice will suffer. This is also
a political issue here that needs to be addressed if a national
food policy is to deliver for Scotland.”
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