27/11/2003

Farmers' incomes hit six-year high, says Defra

Farmers' incomes have recovered to their highest level since 1997, following the third annual increase in a row, according to latest government forecasts.

Total income from farming rose by 34% this year, and total farming income in the UK in 2003 was £3.23 billion, compared to £2.48 billion last year, say estimates released today by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

This is the third year running that total income has increased, bringing it back to late-1980s and early-1990s levels although still well below its 1995 peak, according to the government.

Food and Farming Minister Lord Whitty said: "Today's figures are good news and further evidence that farmers have reversed the decline of recent years, although incomes are still below what they were in the mid-1990s.

"Farming has been through hard times. This welcome increase in income is driven largely by a more favourable exchange rate pushing up prices. It will also have been influenced by farmers' hard work, better business performance and ability to adapt to new conditions and ways of working.

"We continue to work with and support farmers to build a more sustainable, profitable and competitive industry."

(gmcg)

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