Rise in farming incomes as highest productivity ever is recorded for the sector

Total farming income and productivity are on the rise, with the pig sector among those to benefit from higher prices in 2017, Defra estimates show.

Estimates published this week show total income from farming – the profit from all UK farms in a calendar year, measuring the return to all businesses for their management, labour and capital invested – rose by £1,683 million from 2016 to 2017, an increase of 41%. The £5,742 million estimated for 2017 highlights farming remains a profitable and rewarding business for established farmers and new entrants who are in a strong position ahead of the UK’s exit from the EU.

The increased productivity recorded in 2017 also shows farmers are producing more with less, which suggests they are using smarter more efficient methods and embracing innovation. The volume of all outputs increased by 3.6% compared to 2016 whilst the volume of all inputs increased by just 0.7%.

The value of pigmeat produced in the UK rose by £230 million to £1,329 million, a 21% rise, on the back of higher prices in 2017. Production levels fell by 1.6% although carcase weights were slightly heavier. But the significant rise in the value of the final product was entirely due to the welcome 23% rise in price, driven, in turn, by tightening EU supplies.

A strong harvest in 2017 helped to drive productivity higher for 2017, with a 7.3% increase in the volume of all crops estimated. Livestock outputs for meat and other products also rose by 1.8% from 2016. More productive farming across all sectors is directly benefitting farmers’ bank balances as the total income from farming per person engaged in entrepreneurial labour in the sector rose by 41% in real terms to £29,794 a year.

Farming minister George Eustice said:“Estimates show 2017 was a good year for the farming industry, in particular those in the arable and livestock sectors. Whilst the increase in farm gate prices has helped, it’s also encouraging to see signs that productivity is on the up.

“Farming is a volatile business and individual businesses will face many different challenges in a year, but these estimates show an industry that is ready to make the most of the opportunities leaving the EU will present.”

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