Switzerland's Agriculture ministry says that farms benefited from a 20 per cent increase in profits for 2000, compared to the average of the three preceding years. However, the Swiss Farmers Union contests these results, saying that profits only rose by 10 per cent.
The average income of a farm reached SFr66,200 in 2000, despite the collapse of the meat industry last autumn following the second mad cow crisis. These results, based on a survey of 1,000 farms, are explained by good sales results for fruits and potatoes.
The head of Switzerland's Agriculture ministry, Manfred Bötsch, says that besides good sales, Swiss farmers were able to "rely on government subsidies, which have remained stable in the past years".
The Swiss Farmers Union is less optimistic than Bötsch, and says that the data collected gives too much importance to last year's good plant production. According to its own estimates, the Union believes revenues only increased by 10 per cent.
The statistics revealed by the Agriculture ministry do not give any new indications concerning the number of farms which disappear annually. However, the ministry believes that approximately 2,000 farms cease their activity every year.
Fernand Cuche, head of the Swiss Farmers Union, says it is logical that the revenue increases as the number of farms decreases. He has his "doubts" about the calculation methods used by the Agriculture ministry.
swissinfo with agencies
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