Farm income figures show challenges across the rural economy - Farron
New farm income statistics underline the volatility challenges across farming sectors, local MP Tim Farron has said today, echoing a call from the National Farmers Union. Tim believes the figures show that rural communities need more help and support from the government and he has called for a 'national farming, production and export strategy'.
The figures on farm business incomes released by the Office for National Statistics are used to monitor and evaluate Government and EU policies and to inform wider research into the economic performance, productivity and competitiveness of the agricultural industry.
They key results for 2013/14 were:
- Average Farm Business Income fell on cereals, general cropping, mixed and grazing livestock farms in 2013/14 but increased on dairy, specialist pig and specialist poultry farms.
- For the cropping sector, the wet autumn of 2012 continued to influence profitability.
- Drilling was disrupted, leading to increased areas of lower yielding spring crops harvested in 2013. Crop prices were also lower due to weakening global markets.
- On dairy farms, the increased income was driven by a higher milk price (14 percent higher than in 2012/13) and increased production (8 percent higher than in 2012/13).
- Average incomes fell on grazing livestock farms (lowland and LFA). The cold, late spring following the wet autumn of 2012 led to higher feed costs and lower output from the sheep enterprises. In the LFA, output from beef was also lower than in 2012.
- The 2013 Single Payment was, on average, unchanged compared to the previous year. The impact of the weaker exchange rate was offset by the introduction of financial discipline.
On dairy farms, average Farm Business Income increased by more than two thirds to £87,800 but Tim has pointed out that this only means income is returning to 2011/12 levels.
Average incomes fell on grazing livestock farms in both lowland and less favoured areas by 6 percent and 22 percent respectively to approximately £15,000. Average incomes on mixed farms fell by just over 20 percent between 2012/13 and 2013/14 to around £29,500.
Tim said: "Global changes in prices and flux in the marketplace mean that farmers are facing a mixed outlook. But my view is clear, the government can and must do more to support farmers and producers. Many farmers are working 80 hour weeks and living under the poverty line. As well as producing the food for our tables, these farmers also tend our uplands and make sure our spectacular, world class landscape is maintained and accessible."