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Monday, 11 June, 2001, 06:22 GMT 07:22 UK

Most farmers 'against euro'

The National Farmers' Union (NFU) is out of touch with its members on the prospect of Britain joining the euro, according to a survey.

Farmers are 2:1 against joining the euro, the Focus on Farming Survey suggested.

The Lloyd's TSB questionnaires, one of the biggest private sector surveys of farmers, also suggested the industry is not in favour of substantial subsidies.

The NFU is broadly in favour of joining the European single currency "when conditions are right".

Payments converted

The union believes eventual membership would be good for the agriculture industry partly because EU subsidies are paid in the currency.

The sector loses out when payments are converted into sterling - and the stronger the pound, the smaller the payment.

More than 3,000 farmers replied to the questionnaire with 61% not favouring euro membership, compared to 33% who did.

The survey suggested subsidies in any currency do not appear to be of great concern.

'Continual stress'

More than a fifth of those questioned said they wanted such assistance scrapped altogether with another 22% supporting an almost free market.

More than half of the farmers who replied to the survey work 60 hours or more each week, and 40% found the job "continually stressful".

Despite this, nearly two-thirds expected to be farming in five years' time.

But results may have been influenced by the survey's timing in February and March during the first few weeks of the foot-and-mouth outbreak.

An NFU spokeswoman said: "While we believe there are economic advantages for the industry in entering the euro, on an issue like the single currency there will be a lot of different views that will be held for different reasons, and farmers are no exception.

"They will have their personal viewpoints."


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