Supply and marketing co-operative Fram Farmers has blamed a challenging year with tighter on-farm cashflows for a drop in turnover.
Total revenues fell 7.5% to £169m in the year to 30 June, as falling fuel and fertiliser prices helped members, but knocked the group’s income.
The co-op’s 1,400 members placed slightly more orders than the year before, with more than 204,000 invoices processed.
But farmers were increasingly buying arable inputs “hand-to-mouth”, the co-op reported, due to lower commodity prices and pressure on farming margins.
Crop protection products
Sales of crop protection products fell 8.4% to £30.4m, while fertiliser purchases were down 17% and seed dropped 8%.
In other parts of the business, the volume of grain traded was the second biggest in the co-op’s history and 27% above the 10-year average.
Turnover from livestock feed and products rose to a record £26m, while electricity volumes and building material orders also grew.
The group’s operating surplus fell 19% to £141m, but pre-tax profits leapt 160% to £494,013, due mostly to property sales.
Fram Farmers chairman Rodney Baker-Bates said the business remained in a strong position to take opportunities and mitigate risks in a time of change.
“The referendum decision to leave Europe and probability of exiting the single market will have long-term consequences for the UK economy, specifically for the food and farming industry,” he said.
“The farming industry faces an extended period of change, which will present both risks and opportunities.
“The group will face similar challenges to ensure our members continue to receive an excellent service.”
Fram Farmers returns to members rebates negotiated with suppliers, which fell 20% to total £679,426 in total.
This put the average annual cost of membership, including the rebate, at £867.