The Flemish agricultural economic climate index. Results of the autumn 2011 survey

Tom Coulier

November 2011

Gloom galore in the agricultural and horticultural sector. In the last season of 2011, the agricultural economic climate index drops to -12. The levelling movement observed in the spring turns into a steep decrease. A 14-point drop in one go has never occurred before. The recession hits hard, particularly in the horticultural sector. Except in 2009, the economic climate index has never been lower.

The general mood among growers is more negative than among farmers. The arable sector is trying to cope with a very low potato price; the meat cattle industry with rising costs, but constant product prices. The dairy cattle sector is neutral. The crisis is ongoing in the pork industry. The index has not yet reached its lowest point. The slightly better price for pigs is levelled out by extremely high animal feed prices.

In horticultural sectors the general spirit is just plain negative. Field vegetables and greenhouse crops came to the market at the same time as a result of the mild spring, putting pressure on auction prices. In addition, both sectors had to deal with the negative effects of the EHEC crisis, which fully explains their negative moods. Fruit growers were faced with extremely bad weather striking just before the harvest. Those who were able to complete the harvest are not entirely pleased either: hail damage among colleagues didn't actually make the prices go up. Ornamental growers, who work in a highly crisis-sensitive industry, are unanimously negative: high fuel prices lower the spirit and in addition, their expensively produced products find few or no buyers.

Two thirds of the farmers are faced with hardship, mostly of a financial nature. 33% of the farmers indicate that their financial condition is tight. That figure surges to 62% among pig farmers. All farmers indicate rising prices of their inputs: fertilisers, feed, pesticides and energy are getting increasingly expensive. The number of farmers willing to make investments decreased by 8% to 33%. This mainly involves expansion investments.

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Tom Coulier (2011)
De Vlaamse Landbouwconjunctuurindex. Resultaten enquête najaar 2011
Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Brussels.

Departement Landbouw en Visserij
Ellipsgebouw (6de verdieping) - Koning Albert II-Laan 35, bus 40 - 1030 Brussel
Tel. 02 552 78 20 - Fax 02 552 78 21