Farming income falls after commodity prices crash

Crashing farmgate prices across all sectors saw UK farmers’ overall income to slump 4.4% last year.

Total income from farming (Tiff), which measures earnings for those in the industry, slid to £5.4bn in 2014, after adjusting for inflation.

Bumper production and higher commodity prices in the first half of the year partly offset the sharp drop in values that followed.

See also: Farm business income falls across all sectors

Farming’s contribution to the UK economy, known as gross value added, actually rose 3.2% to just under £10bn.

But smaller single farm payments, as well as higher capital, labour and rent costs, still dragged down farmers’ income.

NFU president Meurig Raymond said the figures underlined the pressure of falling prices.

“We have seen a rollercoaster ride in terms of price falls across the various farming sectors over the past year and this trend has continued in 2015,” he said.

“The stronger pound has also exerted downward pressure on the sector’s profitability in 2014 and continues to be a critical factor in determining commodity prices.”

Fortunes varied sector by sector.

Cereals output stayed broadly flat at £3.5bn, while output from oilseed rape, protein crops and sugar beet fell. This pulled total crop output down 4% to £9.2bn.

The output of the livestock sector dropped 5% to £8.9bn, largely due to the beef price crisis.

But dairy output rose 6% to £4.6bn last year, despite the tough trading conditions farmers now face.

The overall Tiff measure was 1.2% lower than in 2011, the last year farmers did not suffer major weather problems.

Tiff per farmer or other unpaid worker is also just below the figure from three years ago, after falling 4.4% to £27,847 in 2014.

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