HSBC head of agriculture Allan Wilkinson has drawn attention to the gap between returns from the market and costs of production, particularly in livestock enterprises. For beef the cost of production is £3.20/kg liveweight compared with a market price of just £2.10 so that only 60-70 per cent of production costs are recovered from the market. It costs £2.30 to produce a live kilo of lamb while market prices are at £1.75-1/85 kg lw. Thus, only 75 per cent to 80 per cent of production costs are met by the market.
These are, of course, average production costs and Mr Wilkinson emphasised the gap between the best- and poorest-performing farm businesses. He warned that unless the gap between the cost of production and returns can be closed, the size of the red meat sector will fall further and the industry will continue to decline.
Once again these figures show how dependent important sectors of British agriculture are on CAP subsidies which are bound to decline in the long run.