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Spain farmers' income drops in 2011 vs EU growth

Source: Reuters - Wed 21st Dec 2011
Spain farmers' income drops in 2011 vs EU growth

Spanish farmers' average income fell in 2011, versus an increase for EU farmers overall, as costs of fuel, fertiliser and feed outpaced any gains in prices for crops and livestock, the agriculture ministry said on Wednesday.

The ministry said average income per farm declined by 0.7% after correcting for inflation, which compared with a rise of 6.7% for the 27-country European Union as a whole.

Growers of fruit and vegetables were hit after Spanish produce was erroneously blamed for a deadly E. coli outbreak in Germany.

Farmers' income from growing crops inched up by 0.1% as increased production barely offset falling prices.

Revenue from rearing livestock, meanwhile, gained 10.4% as both production and prices rose.

Production costs rose by 12.3%, however, leaving farmers worse off. Potential losses were lessened, however, by a 0.7% rise in subsidies to 6.632 billion euros.

Farmers say the EU needs to make farming more profitable in Spain in its forthcoming overhaul of the 55 billion euro a year Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) to prevent young people from leaving the land for cities.

One of Spanish farmers' fundamental problems is that they cannot grow nearly as much cereal in the country's parched, infertile soil as counterparts in northern Europe.

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