FARM INCOMES in England are forecast to drop by more than half in the coming year and become increasingly unpredictable in the future.

Accountant Deloitte and Touche has published its annual farm results report which shows that net farm income rose to £200/ha (£80/acre) in 2003/4, up from just £43/ha (£17/acre) in the year ending June 2003.

But the report, based on a survey covering 100,000ha (250,000 acres) in England, warns producers to gear themselves up for a roller coaster ride in coming years.

It says the 2003/4 boost to incomes will be short-lived and predicts a much lower net farm income figure for the 2004/5 year.

“We estimate the average net farm income will fall away to just £84/ha (£34 acre),” said Mark Hill, head of the Deloitte Food and Agriculture Group.

“For a 400ha (988 acre) farm, this means net farm income over three years will have swung from £17,000 to £80,000 and back to £33,600.”

This income has to support the farmer‘s family and fund future investment in the business.

For more detail see Friday‘s (Oct 15) issue of FARMERS WEEKLY. Subscribe online and save up to 38%!