[30 July/Stuff]

According to a survey by Lincoln University, over a quarter of farms obtained 30 percent or more of their income from off-farm sources. Farmers have struggled to keep up with the price increases. Federated Farmers Meat and Wool Chairman, Miles Anderson, said he was not surprised given the downturn in the sheep industry and high debt many farmers were carrying. Farming enterprises were increasing in size and events such as drought could lead to unforeseen costs. He added that fifty years ago it was less common for someone to be working off-farm, whereas now it was a necessity in most cases. He noted more farmers were asset rich and cash poor. The survey obtained data on net capital gains and returns from 400 farmers. It provided information to think about, and debate the overall profitability of farming. Associate Professor Peter Nuthall, said off-farm income was surprisingly high and with an increasingly uncertain world, the diversification made sense.