Increase in farming income offers a boost after challenging weather

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Financial results for the farming industry published this week make for encouraging reading, and demonstrates farmers’ resilience in the face of testing weather conditions, industry experts say.

Data released by Defra and the Office of National Statistics show that the total income from farming in the UK has risen by 13 per cent in the past year, from £4,834 million to £5,464m. The figure is double that recorded in 2000.

Announcing the figures, Farming Minister, George Eustice, said: “These latest figures are encouraging and show the industry doing well.

“A rise in global demand for British food and drink is providing growth opportunities that many of our businesses are taking up, increasing our exports by 50 per cent over the last ten years.

“Thousands of farms have taken up business grants from Defra to help improve farm competitiveness, increase turnover and create rural jobs.”

The National Farmers’ Union’s chief economist Phil Bicknell said the latest figures again underline farming’s important contribution to the UK economy.

“With agriculture’s GVA now breaking the £9bn barrier, it means that farming’s contribution to the UK economy has now increased by 67 per cent since 2007,” Mr Bicknell said.

“More critically, today’s figures show an improvement in industry profitability in 2013 after the challenging weather conditions that hit the industry in 2012.

“An extra £708m on farming’s bottom line puts aggregate profitability on a par with 2011 levels. This is obviously positive news and is a further testament to the resilience of farming after England experienced its wettest year on record in 2012.

“Nonetheless, the figures also highlight the continued upward trend in farming costs. Agriculture’s cost base has now increased 72 per cent since 2006, and a further £892m was spent by farmers on inputs last year.

“The headline figure also hides the considerable volatility that has emerged in farm incomes between sectors and across regions.”

There were stark differences between farming sectors. The value of wheat fell for the second year in a row by £75m while the value of oilseed rape fell by £245m.

As a contrast, the total output of livestock rose by 8.5 per cent, an increase of £1,110m with the rising value of milk attributed as a key factor.