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Farm incomes soar 66% but hide facts

Soaring farm income figures mask tumbling revenues over the past five years and long-term flat growth

FARMERS' incomes across France have risen by an average 66 per cent, but the top-line figures hide the real story of revenues tumbling over the past few years.

The average wage of agriculteurs dropped 34 per cent in 2009 and by 20 per cent in 2008, and medium-term statistics from the ministry of agriculture show incomes have dropped by five per cent a year over the past five years.

Long-term statistics show that farmers' incomes were just under €20,000 in 1990 and that has grown to just €24.400 today.

Pay is still down 11 per cent from 2007 and the figures hide a wide disparity in incomes, with many farmers still getting substantial support from the EU Common Agriculture Policy.

Cereal growers: revenues multiplied 2.6 times to an average €37,000 because of the Russians closing their grain exports,

Beet farmers: average incomes hit €46,000

Oilseed and specialised cereals: soared 177 per cent (after falls of 57 per cent in 2009 and 35 per cent in 2008)

Dairy farmers: saw an 89 per cent rise to an average income of €19,000 after huge falls last year.

Cattle farmers: revenues rose 25 per cent to an average €15,000

President of the Fédération Nationale des Syndicats d'Exploitants Agricoles Xavier Beulin, a cereal grower, said many farmers would "fall off their chairs" when they saw the figures. "When I see what has happened in the pig, dairy or beef industries, breeders will think they are on a different planet."

Farming minister Bruno Le Maire said farmers had gone through a nightmare year in 2009 and even with the rise this year their income was still "10 to 15 per cent down on the average household income across the rest of the country".

The only industry to see incomes fall this year were winegrowers: AOC vignerons saw revenues down seven per cent to €31,000.

Photo: Andi Taranczuk -

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