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Country News - 2002

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Job losses "destroying the fabric of country life"
Monday 18 November 2002

ANOTHER huge exodus of farmers from the agricultural industry - the worst since World War 11 - is threatening the very fabric of rural life, the National Farmers' Union claimed over the weekend.

Figures issued by DEFRA on Friday showed 8,600 farmers shut up shop and a further 6,600 farm workers went in the 12 months to June this year. This is the biggest fall in farm jobs for more than half a century - and brings the numbers lost in England alone to 67,000 in the past six years.

The NFU responded angrily, saying "the very fabric of rural life is being torn apart."

Union president Ben Gill, who farms at Easingwold, near York, commented: "These figures show that for many there are no other savings to be made and for the first time we are seeing a greater number of farmers than workers leaving the industry.

"In the last two-and-a-half years, we have had promise after promise that there will be a change in the Government's attitude to so many things. These figures serve to illustrate that we can wait no longer.

"Our profitability has collapsed because of falling farm incomes and ever rising regulatory costs. Farmers want to become more focused on the market, they want to become more integrated in the food chain and they are prepared to compete with others.

"But when they see their European competitors doing so much better, it is little wonder that they are increasingly angry at the lack of progress in the delivery of an environment in which they can change and in which they are treated proportionately by the regulators."

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