Farm incomes slump by a staggering 41% in Northern Ireland

The ‘Total Income from Farming’ (TIFF) in Northern Ireland fell by 41% in 2015 (42% in real terms) to £183m from £312m in 2014.

The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) in Northern Ireland has published the first (provisional) estimate for farm incomes in 2015.

Total Income From Farming figure 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.

The total value of Gross Output for agriculture in Northern Ireland decreased by 9% to £1.74billion in 2015.

This was driven by a 13% decline in the value of output from the livestock sector as a whole in 2015.

Farm level incomes

Farm Business Income measured across all farm types is expected to decrease from an average £24,942 in 2014/15 to £13,451 in 2015/16, i.e. a decrease of £11,491 or 46% per farm.

Farm Business Income is also expected to fall for all individual farm types between 2014/15 and 2015/16, with the sharpest reductions for the dairy and pig farm types. The downturn in incomes can be attributed to lower product prices and lower subsidy receipts in the 2015/16 accounting year.

Dairy

Dairying remained the largest contributor to the total value of Gross Output despite falling by 27% to £480m in 2015.

The annual average farm-gate milk price decreased by 28% in 2015 to 21.2p/L, but the volume of raw milk produced in Northern Ireland rose by 3% to 2.3 billion litres, a new record level of milk production.

Cattle

The output value of cattle was marginally higher at £394m in 2015.

While the number of animals slaughtered fell by 2%, this was more than offset by a 9kg increase in the average carcase weight, resulting in a 2% increase in the volume of meat produced. The average producer price for finished clean cattle was £3.26/kg in 2015

Sheep

The value of sheep-meat output decreased by 10% in 2015 to £63m.

This decrease was almost entirely due to a 9% reduction in the average producer price, with little change in the volume of sheep-meat produced. The average producer price of finished lambs and hoggets was £3.40/kg in 2015.

Pig/Poultry

There were reductions in the values of output in two of the three intensive livestock sectors during 2015, with the value of pig output falling by 15% in 2015, to £113m, while that of the poultry meat sector decreased by 6% to £244m.

Meanwhile, the value of egg output rose by 9% to £87m. All three of these sectors recorded an increase in production volumes, with pigs up by 7%, poultry meat up by 2% and eggs up by 4% compared with the previous year. However, average producer prices in the pigs and poultry sectors fell by 18% and 7% respectively, while the producer price for eggs rose by 5%.

Arable

The total output value for field crops fell by 7% in 2015 to £59m.

The value of output of potatoes in 2015 declined by 8% to £17million as the volume of potato production fell due to a reduction in area planted. The value of output for wheat decreased by 12% to £9million and the output value of barley fell by 8% to £18million.

Horticulture

The value of output recorded in the horticulture sector was up by 16% year on year for 2015, at £119m.

This was driven by volume increases in the mushroom and flower sectors of 23% and 22%, respectively. The mushroom sector is the largest of these sectors by value, with an output figure of £67m reported in 2015 (an increase of 24% year on year).

Payments

The estimated value of the 2015 direct subsidies (Basic, Greening and Young Farmer payments) was £236m, representing a decrease of 5% when compared with the value of the Single Farm Payment in 2014. This was due to the less favourable exchange rate between Sterling and the Euro.

Inputs costs

The total value of Gross Input decreased by 4% in 2015, to £1.39billion. Feedstuff costs, which accounted for 52% of the total Gross Input estimate, fell by 6% to £729m in 2015. There was a 1% increase in the volume of feedstuffs purchased but a 7% reduction in the average price paid per tonne.

The total cost of fertilisers in 2015 fell by 10% as a result of a 3% decrease in the volume purchased combined with an 8% reduction in the average price paid per tonne. There was also a reduction in lime purchases, with the result that total expenditure on fertilisers and lime fell to £74m.

Total machinery expenses decreased by 10% to £136m in 2015. This was driven largely by an 18% reduction in the cost of fuel and oils.