Unpredictability the watchword for farm incomes, warns NFU

The latest Farm Business Income figures suggest that farmers are still feeling the impact of an unpredictable and volatile market place, the NFU said.

The latest figures painted a positive picture for pig farms, with average income on specialist pig farms forcecast to more than double to £57,000 in 2016/17 on the back of vastly improved pig prices.

The latest Defra Farm Business Income forecasts predict a 163% increase from the unsustainable average pig farm income £21,600 recorded in 2015/16, when the industry was shaken by a long period of low prices.

NFU President Meurig Raymond said that while many sectors had seen improved fortunes – mainly due to the falling value of the pound – the wider industry was suffering from sharp rises in farm inputs, such as for feed, fertilisers and machinery.

“It is good news that many sectors are currently seeing improved commodity prices. However, for all sectors these figures can quickly change and steep reductions in the dairy and poultry sectors only go to emphasise that farmers are in an extremely volatile sector,” he added.

“Looking ahead, this uncertainty shows no sign of abating and there will be many challenges ahead as Brexit negotiations begin.

“With that in mind, I am calling on the government to ensure it can introduce a domestic agricultural policy which helps build a more profitable farming industry, by focusing on productivity, volatility mitigation and environmental measures, as highlighted at our conference last week.

“Our industry now needs certainty and firm commitments from government if the country is to feel the benefits of a thriving food and farming industry. NFU members want to deliver on a vision shared with Government for an increasingly profitable, competitive and sustainable food and farming sector.

“We have been clear on what we believe is needed to achieve this.  Firstly unrestricted access to the European market, secondly continued access to a competent and reliable workforce both pre and post farm-gate and thirdly a new agricultural policy which assists in the development of an increasingly productive, progressive and above all profitable farming sector.”

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About The Author

Editor of LBM titles Pig World and Farm Business and group editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer. National Pig Association's webmaster. Previously political editor at Farmers Guardian for many years and also worked Farmers Weekly. Occasional farming media pundit. Brought up on a Leicestershire farm, now work from a shed in the garden in Oxfordshire. Big fan of Leicester City and Leicester Tigers. Occasional cricketer.