Northern Ireland’s total agricultural income up 87% in 2017

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) recently published the first estimate for agricultural income in 2017.

Provisional figures indicate that the ‘Total Income from Farming’ (TIFF) in Northern Ireland rose by 87% (82% in real terms) from £253 million (€288.4 million) in 2016 to £473 million (€539.2 million) in 2017.

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 was 17% higher at £2.09 billion (€2.4 billion) in 2017.

There was a 21% increase in the value of output from the livestock sector, while field crops rose by 14% and horticulture was 4% higher. These figures are for the calendar year and, therefore, they represent the return across two harvest years.

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Dairy

Dairying remains the largest contributor to the total value of gross output at £662 million (€754.7 million) in 2017; a rise of 46%.

The annual average farm-gate milk price rose by 42% in 2017 to 28.7p/L, while the volume of raw milk produced in Northern Ireland increased by 4% to 2.3 billion litres.

Beef

The output value of cattle was 6% higher at £460 million (€524.4 million) in 2017. The total number of animals slaughtered increased by 1% in 2017; but, with average carcass weights for both clean and cull animals falling by 2%, the volume of meat produced was marginally lower.

The average producer price for finished clean cattle was £3.48/kg in 2017, while the average producer price for cull animals was £2.47/kg. These average prices were 9% and 14% higher than the respective averages for 2016.

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Sheep

The value of output from sheep decreased by 2% to £73 million (€83.2 million) in 2017. The market value of the sector increased by 4% for the year; but, this was offset by a significant stock change movement.

The increase in market value was a combination of a 2% increase in the producer price (to £3.97/kg) and a 1% increase in the total number of sheep slaughtered. The total volume of sheepmeat produced was 1% higher than 2016. The average carcass weight was 22kg.

Pigs and poultry

There were increases in the values of output for all three intensive livestock sectors during 2017, with the pig sector increasing by 35% to £163 million (€185.8 million). Meanwhile, the egg sector rose by 5% to £100 million (€114 million), while the value of poultry output increased by 9% to £275 million (€313.5 million).

All three sectors recorded an increase in production volumes, with eggs and poultry both up by 9%; while pigs were marginally higher compared to the previous year. The producer prices in the poultry and pig sectors rose by 4% and 29%, respectively, whereas the producer price for eggs reduced by 3%.

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Arable

The total output value for field crops increased by 14% in 2017 to £66 million (€75.2 million). This was as a result of increases in the price for barley, wheat and oats.

Values across a calendar year reflect two harvests. The value of the output of potatoes in 2017 also rose, to £24 million (€27.4 million).

This was a result of an increase in potato production, due to an increase in the area grown in 2017 – while the producer price remained static. The value of output for wheat increased by 31% to £11 million (€12.5 million) and the output value of barley rose by 6% to £18 million (€20.5 million).

Horticulture

The value of output recorded in the horticulture sector was also higher in 2017, at £108 million (€123 million). This was driven in part by volume increases in the fruit and flowers sectors. The mushroom sector is the largest of these sectors by value, with an estimated output value of £53 million (€60.4 million).

Subsidies

The estimated value of 2017 direct subsidies (Basic, Greening and Young Farmer payments) was £287 million (€327 million), representing an increase of 5% – when compared with the 2016 payments. This was due to the more favourable exchange rate between sterling and the euro.

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