Freedom makes up for low wages, say farmers

Sacks appeal: not all farmers appreciate the long, physically demanding days Keystone

Swiss farmers are less satisfied with their lives than the rest of the population, but they cherish their independence as well as being able to reconcile work and family life, according to a survey commissioned by the government.

This content was published on November 12, 2013 minutes and agencies

The poll results, presented on Tuesday as part of the 2013 federal agriculture report, said farmers were most dissatisfied with their revenue as well as having to deal with political and economic uncertainty.

Farming income averaged around CHF56,000 ($61,000) in 2012, 4% less than the average of the previous three years. Revenue from other sources was almost CHF26,800, a 1% increase.

Despite this, the positives outweigh the negatives for farmers, who appreciate their autonomy and being able to manage their own time. They also like the fact they can work outdoors and with animals.

Some of the other advantages of their profession include being able to reconcile work and family life as well as living in the country, which provides a healthier environment for their children.

Gripes include the long days spent working, along with frequent changes in legislation, lower incomes and a lack of time for other activities.

Market demands

According to a study included in the agriculture report, the situation is unlikely to improve. While machinery has helped make farmers’ work less physical, administrative tasks have increased.

Structural changes and market volatility have also made managing a farm more difficult. The risks inherent to running this type of business have increased, putting farmers under more stress.

Pressure is unlikely to diminish though: agricultural policy for the next four years is geared towards competitiveness, improved quality and responding to market demands, according to Economics Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann.

Speaking in Zollikofen, canton Bern, he said farmers now had the opportunity to decide how they wanted to run their businesses. But he added that agricultural production had to respond to the market and consumer expectations.

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