Farmers made hay in 2020 but brace for grim 2021

The weather was favorable for Swiss farmers last year Keystone / Sigi Tischler

Covid, weather and the pig market have been good for farmers in 2020, with incomes up 6.7% from 2019. But this year is shaping up to be much darker.

This content was published on October 5, 2021 – 11:59

Keystone-SDA / ts

The average income last year was CHF 79,200 ($ 85,500) per farm, up CHF 5,000 from the previous year, Agroscope, the Swiss federal agency for agricultural research, said Tuesday.External link. Given that there is an average of 1.35 family workers per farm, this means a full-time salary of CHF 58,600.

One of the reasons for this increase was the Covid-19 pandemic, which has resulted in an increase in demand for local produce, especially straight from the farm. The weather was also favorable for agriculture in 2020: vegetables, fruits, rapeseed and cereals had better harvests than the previous year. Another positive effect on the farmers’ portfolio has been the continued recovery of the pork market.

Agroscope said that these positive developments offset negative developments: yields from viticulture and sugar beet have declined and less wine has been sold due to the pandemic.

Nothing but bad news

Those who work in agriculture would do well to set aside some of this windfall, as 2021 is likely to be a disappointment.

Agroscope expects a gross added value of 4.1 billion francs in Swiss agriculture, a decrease of 6.6% compared to last year. This is because total production decreases while costs increase.

As livestock production and incomes have increased this year, there has been almost nothing but bad news for food crops. The cold spring, frost after the onset of vegetation, hail, a rainy summer with soggy soils and little sun put a strain on agricultural production. Compared to 2020, the value of crop production will fall by 9% to around CHF 3.8 billion.

Stone fruits, especially apricots and plums, had one of the weakest harvests of the past two decades. The hay harvest was difficult. The cereal harvest was delayed and mixed, leading to a decline in the value of cereal production by 13%. The production value of potatoes is down by 15% and that of sugar beet by 14%.

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