Farm incomes in Scotland showed a big increase across all sectors in the 2007-08 financial year, according to revised Scottish Government statistics.
But NFU Scotland urged caution in the interpretation of the recalculated figures, which, it said, were still just an historic snapshot of profitability and market conditions 12 months ago.
The new figures, which calculate Farm Business Income, rather than the traditional Net Farm Income, show farm income before tax and payments to owners and include finance charges, depreciation, insurance and all income from any off or on-farm diversification.
The overall FBI figure for the 442 farms in the Scottish sample was £39,200, compared with £29,800 for NFI – a difference of £9,400. Across all farm types, FBI was greater than NFI and ranged from £16,900 for Less Favoured Area specialist sheep farms to £70,500 for dairy farms.
NFU Scotland’s policy director Scott Walker was supportive of the revised method for calculating incomes. He said: “The FBI figures, and the way they are calculated, present more accurate figures than the previously published NFI figures, but they do not take into account the number of families that draw a living from that income. Next year we have suggested the number of people drawing a wage from the farm business is included in the report.”
The FBI system aims to improve the relevance and accuracy at the business level and is already used by the UK Government and the European Commission. It is set to become the annual economic barometer for the industry.