Weather conditions have again had a significant impact on farm incomes, according to new figures out today.
Defra’s latest Farm Business Income statistics show some signs of recovery but NFU chief economist Phil Bicknell said it was important to put these in to context.
“Poor weather conditions hit all farm businesses in 2012/13 and we saw a 30 per cent decrease in average profits as costs spiralled and output fell. The forecasts indicate some sectors are showing signs of recovery, but even with increases in income across the beef and sheep sector, profitability still falls some way short of 2011/12 levels. There’s good news for pig and dairy producers with year on year increases of 90 per cent and 96 per cent respectively – the dairy sector reversing the trend seen in 2012/13 when incomes fell by 40 per cent.
“Although improved planting figures bode well for the upcoming harvest, incomes for arable producers are estimated to fall further, linked to lower commodity prices and the UK’s lowest wheat harvest for over a decade.
“It is vital we have viable and successful farming businesses at the foundation of our agri-food sector. As an industry, agriculture has performed strongly through the recession with our contribution to the economy increasing by a staggering 54 per cent between 2007 and 2012. Some exceptional climatic challenges have dampened performance in the short term, but the forecasts show the resilience of our industry and demonstrate how some sectors are making steps towards recovery.