NFU warns farm income figures understated

Average Farm Business Incomes in England fell across all farm enterprises save for grazing livestock farms in the March 2014 to February 2015 year, finds the latest Defra Farm Business Income Survey.

 Farm business incomes for England 2004-14 (Defra)

Farm business incomes for England 2004-14 (Defra)

On lowland grazing livestock farms average incomes increased by 23 percent, albeit from a low base, whilst on Less Favoured Area (LFA) grazing livestock farms average incomes were similar to the previous year.

The average cropping farms saw a 9% fall in income to £45,000, with high domestic 2014 plantings and yields in the face of high global supplies reducing crop commodity prices.

Dairy farms saw a 5% drop to £83,800. While this is largely due to falling milk prices, this was only in the second half of the period measured – for the first six months they were higher than the previous year.

Incomes on specialist pig units fell 24% to £49,400 and by 19% on specialist poultry businesses to £127,500, attributed to reduced output for pig and poultry meat.

Overall factors affecting incomes included the strength of the pound against the euro, which led to a lower value Single Payment and a negative impact on prices as domestic production competed with cheaper imports and alternative suppliers for export markets.

The NFU warns that commodity price movements since February, which have hit farm businesses hard in recent months, are not reflected in the Defra figures.  

“During these challenging times, it is crucial that there are no delays to CAP payments, which would only compound cash flow” stresses NFU deputy president Minette Batters. “This includes ensuring BPS is paid in a timely manner early in the payment window and also making pillar 2 payments as early as possible. The NFU is disappointed that the options of paying enhanced rates for the initial pillar 2 agri-environment payment this autumn or allowing up to 70% of the BPS payment to be made from 16 October, as allowed by the European Commission, were not implemented.”

“It's critical that others in the food chain now recognise the financial pressures that farmers, as suppliers of raw materials, are facing. There are some positive initiatives out there. More widely the supply chain can help by working to put in place the mechanisms that help farmers manage volatility.”  

Full survey results via: