SFP totals 87% of farm income in Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland’s farming income grew by one-third in 2013, but single farm payments still made up 87%.

Total income from farming rose 33.7% in 2013 to £298m, while the estimated value of SFP increased to £259m, according to figures released by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD).

Average farm business income for all farm types is expected to increase from £19,336 in 2012-13 to £30,976 in 2013-14 for the year ending in mid-February.

DARD will publish a full analysis in March, but has predicted incomes will grow for dairy, cattle, sheep, pig and mixed farms, but fall for cereal farms.

“The context is that we were down 50% last year,” said Ulster Farmers’ Union chief executive Clarke Black.

“The recovery is excellent, much needed and very welcome. We took a hiding in 2012.

“It is good we are up 33%, but it should be put in terms of what it’s up from and that a significant part of our income comes from single farm payments.”

Average incomes on dairy farms should increase 125% to £62,848 in 2013-14, driven by farmgate milk prices that were 21% higher.

Cattle and sheep farms are likely to see incomes grow slightly, with those in the lowlands rising 36% to £15,631 and those in less favoured areas rising 25% to £16,333. Incomes on pig farms are expected to rise 47% to £46,382.

Cereals farm incomes are likely to fall after a year of lower grain prices, dropping 17% to £31,589.

UFU president Harry Sinclair said the year started badly, but improved in the second half.

“Farmers were faced with one of their biggest challenges as many were hit hard with possibly the worst snow storm Northern Ireland has experienced in more than 60 years,” he said.

“However, the good summer and mild autumn and winter definitely helped to alleviate some of the damage caused and that, combined with increased farmgate prices for our main commodities, has helped the industry to recover from what was a very difficult and trying time for many.”

See also: Scottish farm incomes recover to 2011 levels

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