Northern Ireland agricultural incomes in 2014

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The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) has published the first (provisional) estimate for farm incomes in 2014.

Revisions have been made to previous years.

Aggregate Agricultural Income

Provisional figures indicate that the ‘Total Income from Farming’ (TIFF) in Northern Ireland decreased by 16% (17% in real terms) from £336 million in 2013 to £283 million in 2014.

TIFF represents the return on own labour, management input and own capital invested for all those with an entrepreneurial involvement in farming. It represents farm income measured at the sector level.

Total Gross Output for agriculture in Northern Ireland fell by 3% in 2014 to £1.89 billion. This was driven by a 3% decline in the value of output from the livestock sector as a whole in 2013. The largest contributor to this reduction was from the output value of cattle, which fell by 15% to £376 million in 2014. This was the result of a 5% fall in volume combined with an 8% decrease in the average producer price (the average beef price was £3.07 per kilogram in 2014).

Dairying remained the largest contributor to the total value of Gross Output in 2014, increasing by 2% to £654 million. The annual average farm-gate milk price decreased by 6% in 2014 to 29.7 pence per litre, but the volume of raw milk produced in Northern Ireland rose by 9% to 2.20 billion litres (a new record level of milk production).

The value of sheepmeat output increased by 1% in 2014 to £67million. This small increase in value was almost entirely due to a stock change. The volume of sheepmeat produced was similar to 2013 but was produced from 3% fewer sheep due to an increase in average slaughter weight per animal. The average producer price of finished sheep was unchanged in 2014 at £3.48 per kilogram.

There were gains in the values of output in two of the three intensive livestock sectors during 2014, with increases of 1% (to £131million) for pigs and 12% (to £76million) for eggs, while the value of output from the poultry sector decreased by 3% to £258 million. All three of these sectors recorded an increase in production volumes, with pigs up by 4%, poultry by 4% and eggs by 15% compared with the previous year. However, producer prices in the, pigs, poultry and eggs sectors fell by 4%, 8% and 2% respectively.

The total output value for field crops fell in 2014 by 19% to £64million. This was mainly as a result of reductions in the producer prices for barley and potatoes. The value of output of potatoes in 2014 declined by 28% to £19million despite better weather conditions leading to an increase in harvestable potato production. The value of output for wheat decreased by 13% to £10million and the output value of barley fell by 20% to £20million.

The estimated value of the 2014 Single Farm Payment was £246million, representing a decrease of £20million, or 7.4%, when compared with 2013. This is due to the less favourable exchange rate between Sterling and the Euro.

The total value of Gross Input decreased by 3% in 2014 to £1.44billion. Feedstuff costs, which account for 54% of the total Gross Input estimate, declined by 3% to £772 million in 2014. There was a 1% decrease in the volume of compound feedstuff purchased and a 3% reduction in the average price paid per tonne.

In 2014, the total cost of fertilisers fell by 19% as a result of a 18% decrease in the volume purchased combined with a 2% reduction in the average price per tonne paid. There was little change to lime purchases, with the result that total expenditure on fertilisers and lime fell by 19% to £83million.

Total machinery expenses decreased by 1% to £154million in 2014. The decrease was due to a 2% reduction in the cost of fuel and oils.

A detailed document covering the period 2010–2014 and containing all the key figures used to derive TIFF in Northern Ireland can be downloaded from the DARD website at www.dardni.gov.uk/ni-agricultural-incomes

Estimates for the United Kingdom will not be released until April 2015 and a breakdown of TIFF for the UK will not be available until then.

Farm level incomes

Farm Business Income by farm type for 2013/14 with forecasts for 2014/15 are presented in Table 1 at http://www.dardni.gov.uk/ni-agricultural-incomes.htm. These income results are based on farm accounts collected as part of the Northern Ireland Farm Business Survey (FBS). This is a representative sample of farms larger than 0.5 Standard Labour Requirements. The income figures presented are for accounting years with an average end date of mid-February.

Farm Business Income measured across all farm types is expected to decrease from an average £29,606 in 2013/14 to £21,662 in 2014/15, i.e. a decrease of £7,944 or 27% per farm.

Farm Business Income is also expected to fall (by varying amounts) for all individual farm types between 2013/14 and 2014/15. The downturn in incomes can be attributed to lower product prices and lower Single Farm Payment receipts in the 2014/15 accounting year.

A detailed analysis of farm incomes by type and size of farm in 2013/14 will be provided in the report ‘Farm Incomes in Northern Ireland 2013/14’ which will be published on the DARD website: http://www.dardni.gov.uk/statistics-farm-incomes-in-ni.htm in March 2015.