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BBC Wales's Siriol Griffiths
"The Farmers' Union of Wales say the statistics are a disaster"
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BBC Wales's Rural Affairs Correspondent Nia Thomas
"The face of Welsh farming will change again in the next few years"
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Monday, 12 February, 2001, 19:16 GMT
Farm incomes' 'disastrous' plummet
Farming incomes plummet
The leader of the main farmer's union in Wales is warning that the industry is on the verge of disaster after latest figures showed farm incomes fell by 60m last year.

The Total Income From Farming (TIFF) statistics released by the Welsh Assembly on Monday showed farm incomes fell to -2.6m in the last 12 months.

These official figures reinforce what we have been saying for many years - that farming in this country is on the verge of a disaster

Bob Parry

It is first time ever that incomes have gone into the red and statistics shows the total value of farming output in Wales is less than the total cost of producing that output.

"This is an appalling state of affairs," said Farmers' Union of Wales President Bob Parry.

"These official figures reinforce what we have been saying for many years - that farming in this country is on the verge of a disaster."

This latest decline follows a fall of 11m in the year before.

The main reason was a fall in value of output - including subsidies - attributed to "market conditions and the weakness of the Euro."

Welsh Agriculture Minister Carwyn Jones
Carwyn Jones AM: 'More muscle'

"We simply cannot continue farming and making a loss," said Mr Parry.

"Our politicians must pay close attention to these figures and take immediate action to help farming through these tough times."

But Agriculture Minister Carwyn Jones said the situation had improved recently.

He said he was pressing farmers in Wales to " show more muscle which equals fairer prices which equals more profits."

Mr Jones also said he was pressing the UK government for full agri monetary compensation for Welsh farmers.

"Wales is almost totally dependant on livestock farming, so anything that affects either market prices or the value of European subsidies has an immediate and dramatic impact on our farmers," said Mr Parry.

Farmers' Union of Wales President Bob Parry
Bob Parry: Farming on verge of disaster
He said the figures clearly demonstrated why 3,800 people - 73 every week - left the farming industry in Wales last year because they could no longer make a living.

"The assembly published estimate income figures for Welsh farmers before Christmas, which showed that the average income was just 4,100 a year."

"I believe that when the final figures are published in March, they will show that many farmers in Wales are operating at a substantial loss."

The FUW has already put forward recommendations to alleviate the problems including claiming more than 220m of European agri-monetary aid to compensate for the strength of the pound against the Euro.

Members have also suggested the development of a high-quality image with high premium prices for Welsh branded produce.

Conservative AM Glyn Davies, the chair of the assembly's agriculture committee, said the figures were "deeply depressing".

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See also:

16 Dec 99 | Wales
AM's tears over farm suicides
31 Jan 00 | Scotland
Scottish farm incomes plummet
12 Oct 00 | UK
Farmers' profits plunge
01 Feb 00 | Business
Farmers win sympathy but no cash
01 Feb 00 | Northern Ireland
Farmers protest at industry crisis
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