Ulster Unionist councillor Richard Holmes has highlighted a report from The Prince’s Countryside Fund entitled ‘Who’d be a farmer today’ about the reality of life on farms as a must read for every household.
“There seems to be a rosy view about farming life amongst the general public,” said Mr Holmes. “Of great concern was the fact that estimates of farm incomes was more than double reality. This does nothing to maintain value in the supply chain.
“Nor does the fact that the most common buying criteria for shoppers was price. The squeeze being put on farmers from the supermarkets to compete on price will ultimately effect quality.
“The squeeze on farm incomes also leads to accumulating debt and the report highlights that 17% of farms are unable to pay off their short term debt. This is a familiar story for many farmers in our own area. It is particularly prevalent amongst younger farmers seeking to invest to modernise farms having taken over from their fathers.
“One of the most frightening statistics is that average farm incomes fell below £20,000 in 2015, the lowest since 2007. But there is little outcry about this from the left wing who campaigned to stop the government capping benefits at the same amount.
“Quality, local, seasonal and sustainable food has to be the way forward and policy makers need to ensure the supply chain is delivering for both the consumer and the farmer.”