Angus Agriculture Sector Resilient in CrisisNeil Hardie
The agricultural sector in Angus and Tayside is weathering the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic according to a newly-published economic survey.
Conducted by the Dundee and Angus Chamber of Commerce (DACC), the survey found business activity had contracted across all eight key areas of revenue, online sales, orders, profits, cashflow, investment, wages and employment.
On average, businesses across the Dundee and Angus area have been operating at just 54% of capacity, with tourism, hospitality and transport seeing the biggest declines.
However, the survey, which attracted 3,600 responses, showed agriculture businesses had the highest operating performance of 87%.
Dr Shona Dobbie of Angus Economics said the sector was also showing signs of optimism.
She said: “On balance there has been little change in total revenue for the local agricultural sector over the last three months helped by the fact that revenue from the rest of the UK and export revenue has increased.
“Crucially, firms in the sector have continued to invest, mostly in capital equipment, rather than in training and unlike most other sectors, there has been little change in cash flow, profitability and orders.”
Looking to the future, respondents from the agri sector expect revenue to increase over the next three months and investment is also expected to rise in terms of both capital and training.
The survey, which was carried out between May and June, also showed that employment and prices are set to increase over the next three months.
Ms Dobbie said: “Notwithstanding seasonal variations the sector has, the overall impression is that, being a provider of essential goods, the agricultural sector has fared better than most during the lockdown period and is now, in comparison to other sectors, relatively optimistic about the next three months in terms of sales, orders, investment and employment.”
Jeremy Parker, group secretary, Angus, for NFU Scotland, said the industry has “proved to be resilient over the years”.
He added: “As well as the Covid-19 pandemic, we have also had the impact on staffing levels because of Brexit, which may have influenced the statistics.
“People have generally been supportive of Scottish products and supported local agricultural businesses, and these firms have stepped up, with some adapting in innovative ways.
“However, internet access is essential and this remains a lottery in some areas.”
As businesses emerge from the lockdown restrictions, Mr Parker also called on the hospitality sector to seek out the high-quality food and drink products that are available locally.