Scottish Liberal Democrat rural affairs spokesperson Mike Rumbles MSP has said the Scottish Government must be held to account for its "blunders" after figures show that the annual income of farms in Scotland has halved in the past five years, while thousands of farmers are still living on less than £7.20 per hour.
According to the Scottish Government’s own figures the average income of farms, after expenses, has dropped from £49,301 in 2011/12 to £26,402 in 20116/17. Forty five percent of farm businesses experience income equivalent to less than the minimum agricultural wage (MAW), on a per head basis. This includes the 23 percent that made a loss in 2016-17.
Mr Rumbles said:
“A series of Scottish Government blunders has left our rural economy reeling while thousands of local businesses have been left out of pocket. It is no surprise that farm income has slipped back over the past five years.
“Farm support is worth over £500 million to our rural economy, every year. But over the past three years we have seen bungle after bungle and months of delay. That is money that should be circulating our rural economy, not sitting in Scottish Government coffers.
“Our agricultural sector can only take so much strain, with thousands of farm businesses struggling to make ends meet. Ministers must now see the warning signs and start to take action to put our rural economy back on track.”