BRUSSELS (AP) -- Income for farmers in the European Union has fallen by 12.2 percent this year, largely in line with a drop in food prices.

The EU said Friday that income fell most in Hungary, by 35.6 percent -- where the Hungarian forint has slid in value against neighboring nations -- followed by Italy with 25.3 percent.

Among the major EU nations, income fell by 19.8 percent in France and by 21 percent in Germany, but rose 14.3 percent in Britain. The weakening of the British pound against the euro has made British products less expensive for buyers in Europe and Britain.

Farmers throughout the EU have protested this year a crash in food prices, demanding more subsidies and aid to make their exports more attractive.

The European farmers' association Copa-Cogeca said farmers across the 27-nation bloc have suffered a major crisis this year.

"They are being suffocated by rock-bottom farm prices and high production costs," said the group's president Padraig Walshe. "Farmers' income is on average less than 50 percent of average earnings in the EU and the extreme price volatility on the markets poses a big problem."

He called for the European Commission to try to "manage the market properly." Farmers say rapid price changes make it difficult for them to plan ahead, as they must, by sowing crops or raising animals to meet uncertain future demand.

However, EU officials are reluctant to heed their calls to intervene by buying up food. They do not want to repeat the market intervention that by the 1980s led to huge amounts of food in storage.

Copyright 2009 The AP.

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