On July 1st, the Agriculture Accounts Committee increased its estimates for the performance of agricultural incomes published in December 2008. While the first estimates predicted a fall in income of around 15%,1 final figures indicate a fall of -20%. That is 5 points less than what was estimated based on forecasts at the end of 2008.
All sectors have seen their income fall or remain stagnant, with the exception of the sheep and dairy industries, which should not last, given the crisis facing the dairy industry in 2009. The fall in income is significant for some productions such as fruits (-37%), cereals and oil and protein crops (-30%), polyculture (-27%), beef (-24%) or AOC wines (-22%).
Certainly, the extent of this staggering fall is explained in part, and paradoxically, by the surge in agricultural prices in 2007, which led to exceptionally high incomes that same year. In comparison, the fall was obviously, even sharper in 2008. But this fall also illustrates the tremendous volatility of prices on the agricultural markets. Usually, no other sector can support such fluctuations in its sales, without seriously suffering the consequences.
Recently, the only sector that has experienced a similar fall in revenues is the auto industry, which has been seriously affected by the economic crisis. In response, most governments have implemented very costly rescue plans to save their auto industries. Meanwhile, the authorities continue to dissociate themselves from the agricultural sector through increasingly elaborate deregulation policies.
1 See momagri, “Farmers’ income once again hostage to markets”, 15/12/2008 http://momagri.info/UK/A-look-at-the-news/Farmers-Income-Once-Again-Hostage-to-Markets_403.html