Scottish Liberal Democrat rural affairs spokesperson Mike Rumbles MSP has today blasted the SNP Government for its inept handling of Scotland’s agricultural sector, leaving thousands of farmers “struggling to make ends meet”.
Official statistics published today show that the average farm business income fell by almost 50% last year. Since a peak in income in 2010-11, commercial farms’ income has decreased 75 per cent in real terms.
Over a third of farm businesses reported a loss and more than half reported income roughly equivalent to the minimum agricultural wage.
Mr Rumbles said: “The Cabinet Secretary should immediately appear before Parliament to explain how his department will be turning this disastrous situation around.
“Farm businesses and rural communities have been forced to endure years of bungling and neglect, now we can see the mess that the Scottish Government has left in its wake. If the former Cabinet Secretary had not already been replaced I would be calling for his resignation. The current one need to get a grip of this situation right now.
“Incomes have collapsed under this SNP Government and farmers are struggling to make ends meet. Despite market prices tumbling, ministers have cut support to farmers and bungled millions of pounds worth CAP payments in a manner that makes the term ‘mess-up’ look exceedingly generous.”
Notes to editors:
- The full statistics are available at: https://beta.gov.scot/news/scottish-farm-incomes/
- Decrease is across all eight farm types (Specialist Sheep, Specialist beef, cattle and sheep, cereals, general cropping, Dairy, lowland cattle and sheep, mixed ) with dairy farms experiencing the largest decrease – on average 97% decrease in farm business income.
- Estimates from the Scottish Government’s annual Farm Business Survey show that the average Farm Business Income was £12,600 in 2015-16, representing a drop of £11,500 from the previous year. Since a peak in income in 2010-11, commercial farms income has decreased 75 per cent in real terms.
- The average value of all grants and subsidies in 2015-16 was £38,100, a fall of six per cent on the previous year.
- FBI does not include costs for unpaid labour (farmer, spouse, other partners, directors and managers) that are, to some extent, dependent on the income of the farm business. The unpaid FTE (full-time equivalent) of a farm is the number of hours worked by regular unpaid labour. One FTE is equal to 1,900 hours a year.