County farms hit by financial pressures

The operational surplus of county farmers has dropped to its lowest level for five years, according to latest figures from the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy.

Financial pressures to modernise the 118,000 ha of county farms, which are the responsibility of 63 authorities across England and Wales, meant operational surplus had dropped to £9.4m in 2006/2007. The figure was £12.1m in 2003/2004.

While costs remained fairly stable, income had also dropped by 11% while the size of the national farm estate had fallen by 7000ha (17,297 acres).

According to CIPFA, the drop in income reflected the financial pressures faced by estate tenants and the effects of foot-and-mouth.

Charles Coats of the Association of Chief Estates and Property Management in the Public Sector, said county farms have begun using their estate assets more creatively in response to the financial pressures.

“Service managers, together with estate tenants, are increasingly exploring creative ways in which the natural assets of their estates can be exploited to mutual benefit.

“Numerous diversification schemes have been implemented and more are being investigated,” he added.




% change

Size of national estate (ha)




Total number of farms




Total number of tenancies




Jobs sustained on the national estate