SIR, – I usually enjoy reading Dr Keith Dawson’s 'View from the East' but his latest report has made me question his capacity for objective comment.

He gave figures for the dependence of farmers in different parts of the UK on subsidy income support. These can only have been based on the Average Net Farm Income (NFI) of farmers published by the government, which is not the same as the average taxable income of farmers and portrays farmers as being much poorer than they are.

A glance at the cars parked adjacent to any meeting of farmers should have alerted Keith to check the validity the numbers he quoted. When I calculate the NFI of this farm, it is much lower than our annual taxable income.

When I questioned the civil servant responsible for publication of income figures for Scotland he said that NFI should be 'viewed as an economic measure rather than as a ‘wage’ and as such could be justifiably used to observe trends over years and between countries'.

Average NFI is an index of income and is not the same as actual earnings. Those who try to predict what the future holds should not use numbers without verifying how they have been derived.

Duncan Pickard

Straiton Farm,