9 August 2002

Arable just back in the black this year?

ARABLE farmers made a loss of £28/ha (£11/acre) on average in 2001/02, according to the Home-Grown Cereals Authority.

But they should be back in the black – just – this year.

The HGCAs 100ha (250-acre) arable farm model uses final corn returns to calculate prices paid to farmers, and revealed an estimated loss of £2849 in the last marketing year.

This is the first time the model has shown a loss for 25 years, says the HGCAs Julian Bell.

"The combined effects of lower planted areas and yields well below trend left the average arable farm in a potential loss-making situation," he says.

Farmers received an average of £76.50/t for wheat (weighted between feed and milling), with prices ranging from £61.90/t to £80.50/t.

Barley returns (feed and malting combined) ranged from £57.50/t to £70.30/t, giving an average of £67.30/t.

"The large variation in price illustrates how an individual farm could have performed much better or worse than the model, depending on timing of sales," says Mr Bell.

Incomes look set to improve slightly this year, with profits at £11/ha (£4.50/acre), as increased area aid payments and more normal cropping patterns should offset lower ex-farm prices. &#42