While a European Commission report has predicted that average farm incomes are likely to rise by 15 per cent over the next ten years, any improvement in Scottish and UK figures are expected to be much lower.
“Prospects for EU agricultural markets and income 2015-2025”, just published by the Commission, gives the medium-term outlook for the industry – but points out that the majority of the improvement in incomes will be amongst the newer member states where incomes are expected to rise by 40 per cent.
Any increase, however, for those in longer-term member states were likely to be much lower, at around only 2 per cent, well below any rise in costs.
While the report claimed that this would narrow the gap between states, the difference would still remain significant.
However, the rise in incomes in new member states is set to come from major restructuring of farming, with less labour and a move towards fewer, larger units accounting for the majority of the increase in income. The report also predicts that the total EU labour force will fall from 9.9 million full time equivalents in 2014 to 7.3 million in 2025.
The authors were reasonably upbeat on grain prices, pointing out that despite recent record harvest and stocks being replenished, prices for grain had generally remained between €150 and €180 a tonne with continued growth in demand likely to be on the cards.
The report, however, admitted that it used a number of assumptions in its predictions, including normal weather conditions, steady yield trends, no market disruption form issues such as disease outbreaks, food safety issues or any form of political upheaval.