By FWi staff

WELL-MANAGED farm businesses are significantly out-performing the rest, according to Nottingham Universitys latest Farming in the East Midlands report.

The difference between the top third and the remainder is pronounced in all sectors, but particularly in medium-sized arable with dairy farms.

Of the 13 100-200ha (247-494 acres) farms surveyed, the five most profitable had a net farm income of 279/ha (113/acre) for the financial year ending between December 1999 and April 2000.

The balance made a loss of 70/ha (28/acre), a marked difference of 349/ha (141/acre).

In the mainly cereal producing group, the largest difference was found on farms smaller than 100ha.

The top producers achieved a net farm income of 275/ha (111/acre) compared with 27/ha (11/acre) for others in the group.

Martin Seabrook, of the universitys rural business research unit, believes a reluctance by farmers to restructure their business goes someway to explaining this trend.

“Our studies show arable units below 600 acres will only be profitable if they are contract farmed, but many farmers are unwillingly to take this step.”

Mr Seabrook believes the top producers get better prices for their farm outputs.

“The timeliness of marketing is becoming more and more crucial, but a lot of farmers are not making the most of this.”

In contrast to last years survey, the results for 1999/2000 show the performance of some sectors of the industry has improved.

Mainly cereal farmers and those with arable plus pigs or poultry boosted their total net farm incomes by 152% and 162% respectively.

The total net farm income for the average arable with pigs or poultry unit – 172ha – was 12,920, a big improvement on last seasons loss of 20,570.

The specialist dairy farmers have seen no change in their net farm income of 63/ha (25.5/acre).