Most farms to see fall in income, says DEFRA

Most farm types will see a fall in income for the year to February 2013, according to DEFRA statistics.

In England, livestock farmers in less favoured areas (LFAs) are set to see a 52% reduction in income to an average of £14,000, while the pig sector will see incomes fall by half to £19,000.

The English poultry sector is likely to have fared the best, with no change in predicted income of £41,000.

In Northern Ireland, the picture is similar. Dairy farmers are estimated to have seen a 53% drop to £27,462.

Northern Ireland average farm business income by type of farm (£/farm)   
 Farm type 2011/12 2012/13 (forecast) % change
Cereals  26,856  22,244  -17 
Dairy  58,124  27,462  -53 
Cattle and sheep (LFA)  23,091  19,477  -16 
Cattle and sheep (lowland)  18,762  16,495  -12 
Pigs  37,161  25,383  -32 
Mixed  52,301  45,012  -14 
All types  34,184  23,237  -32 
Source: Farm Business Survey    

NI pig farmers will see a fall of 32% to £25,383, which mirrored the average income fall for all types.

Scotland estimates were not available for 2012/13, but revised figures ending February 2012 show an overall decrease of 3% on the previous year to £45,000.

Wales has yet to release the figures.

The NFU said farm income figures underline the importance to CAP to the industry.

“The figures make sobering reading, but will be no surprise for many in the industry,” said NFU chief economist Phil Bicknell.

“Wheat yield and quality were hit by the weather, while it’s been well documented that rising costs outstripped farmgate price changes for dairy and pork producers at times during the past year. More recently, we can add the plummeting lamb price to the list of challenges the industry faces.

“The weather caused chaos across the board and has laid bare the importance of CAP payments. With profits squeezed, a larger number of farmers will again be forced to rely on CAP’s direct payments to underpin their business in the year ahead.

 England average farm business income by type of farm (£/farm)   
 Farm type 2011/12 2012/13 (provisional) % change 2011/12
At current prices    
Cereals  94,500  84,000  -11 
General cropping  101,000  90,000  -11 
Dairy  86,500  50,000  -42 
Grazing livestock (lowland)  32,000 18,000 -44
Grazing livestock (LFA) 29,000 14,000  -52
Specialist pigs  38,000  19,000  -50 
Specialist poultry 41,000  41,000  0
Mixed  66,000  50,000  -24 

“Falling farm income data shatters the myth that high commodity prices would mean high profits. Farmers cannot produce at little or no profit indefinitely; they need to turn a profit and they need to re-invest. The reality is that price volatility, low profitability and falling confidence does not provide a secure framework for a sustainable food industry. These figures should be a wake-up call for us all. Managing risk and volatility are key and that must be recognised by both the government in its CAP negotiations and in pricing decisions taken by the food chain.”

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