European farmers’ incomes for 2018 dropped after a record increase in 2017, with extreme weather conditions across several member states hitting returns.
Real agricultural income in 2018 fell by 3 per cent on 2017, with net entrepreneurial income falling by 7 per cent, according to the latest figures from Eurostat.
European farming group Copa-Cogeca said at first glance the data revealed a mixed picture.
While Denmark had lost most of its income gains from 2017, incomes in Slovenia had greatly improved, which followed a 15 per cent drop in 2017.
Sweden, Lithuania, Belgium and others saw drops in income, but France, Finland and Italy managed to largely maintain the status quo.
This underperformance is presumably linked to the extreme weather conditions faced by several member states, from severe droughts in northern Europe to floods in mid-October in southern Europe.
Pekka Pesonen, Copa-Cogeca secretary general, said: “Statistics are starting to reflect the consequences of the episodes of severe drought and flooding on farms.
“This is all the more worrying, as we already know that farmers’ income for 2019 will be impacted.
Indeed, seedlings in many regions across Europe have been harmed by such extreme weather conditions.
“It is key that we and our governments draw lessons from this crisis.
“Member states should now fully implement all risk management tools at their disposal. For its part, the European Commission should better anticipate and take swifter action.”
Copa-Cogeca said a sharper decline in incomes was only prevented by a gradual reduction of the workforce, which decreased by 1.5 per cent in 2018.
Meanwhile, farming input costs, including seed, energy, fertilisers and plant protection products, continued to rise steadily, increasing the pressure on all European farmers for 2019.