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Hill Farming: Labour Turnover

Volume 470: debated on Wednesday 23 January 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many hill farmers left the industry in each of the last 10 years. (180103)

[holding answer 21 January 2008]: Information on the number of farmers, partners, directors and spouses working on farms is collected in the Annual June Survey of Agriculture and Horticulture. No information is collected on the number of farmers leaving the industry. The June Survey data is not split by hill and lowland farm but a breakdown of farmers in Less Favoured Areas between 1997 and 2006 are shown in the following table. These figures show net change only and therefore include gains as well as losses. The figures between certain years (in particular between 2001-02 and 2005-06) are not directly comparable due to changes in definitions and methodology as explained in the table notes.

Farmers, Partners, Directors and Spouses in Less Favoured Areas

Number

1997

25,600

1998

28,466

1999

27,819

2000

28,671

2001

33,452

2002

32,582

2003

30,833

2004

30,955

2005

31,101

2006

36,348

Notes:

1. Less favoured areas (LFA) are areas, such as mountainous and hilly areas, within the European Union where farming is made more difficult by natural handicaps.

2. Less Favoured Area holdings were classified differently in 2006 and figures may not be comparable to previous years. Geographical grid references applied from 2006 are more robust than previous historical data.

3. Estimates are based on a sample survey and are therefore subject to a degree of sampling error.

4. Figures for 1997 to 1999 show main holdings only, from 2000 onwards minor holdings are also included.

5. Due to a register improvement exercise in 2001 labour figures prior to this date are not directly comparable with later results.

6. The introduction of the Single Payment Scheme in 2005 has led to an increase in the number of holdings registered. This impacted on the labour totals recorded through the survey in June 2006. These data for June 2006 are therefore not comparable with those from earlier years.

Source:

June Agricultural Survey