Data published this week, in a study by the EU statistical office Eurostat, largely covered over the cracks of what appeared to have been a significantly disappointing year for many agricultural producers. German workers suffered the worst of any European state with farmers’ wages falling by -37.6%, when compared to 2014.
Poland (-23.8%), Luxembourg (-20%), Denmark (-19.7%), the UK (-19.3%) and Romania (-19.2%) were the other nations to have been struck by a sizeable decline in real-term wages in between 2014-15.
Eurostat linked the fall in farmers’ wages to a decrease in the value of agricultural output: in nominal terms, this fell by -2.5% and was primarily caused by an EU-wide decline in the value of animal production, which fell by -5.9% this year.
Eurostat’s data suggested the ongoing pig crisis had played a big part in this. Pork value shrank by -8.9% when compared to 2014 and, along with milk (-14.9%), the overall decline in the value of animal production looked like it could have been far worse.
The reason the decrease was not as bad as figures suggested was because the value was compensated for by other sectors: the rise in beef (4.3%), sheep and goats (3.2%) and poultry (1.1%) have helped offset the fall in pork and milk, according to Eurostat.
A separate survey, published on Tuesday 15 December, conducted by the EU farming body Copa-Cogeca, suggested farmer confidence in the EU market was “low”. This was a result of disappointing prices and “ongoing market disruptions,” according to Copa-Cogeca secretary-general Pekka Pesonen.
“The findings clearly demonstrate clear scepticism among farmers about EU agricultural policy. Commodity prices have not rebounded and the overall farm income drop has been attenuated by reductions in agricultural labour.
“In eight [EU] member states, the survey showed that many farmers faced difficulties and were concerned about implementation of the CAP, particularly in Germany and the UK,” he added.
Five EU states with biggest income fall per worker