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UK: Forecast shows weather still impacting on farming’s bottom line

PUBLISHED: 06:00 02 February 2014

Sudbury Water Meadows

Sudbury Water Meadows

Archant

Weather conditions have again had a significant impact on farm incomes, according to new figures out today.

The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ (DEFRA) latest Farm Business Income statistics show some signs of recovery but National Farmers’ Union (NFU) chief economist Phil Bicknell said it was important to put these in to context.

“Poor weather conditions hit all farm businesses in 2012/13 and we saw a 30% decrease in average profits as costs spiralled and output fell. The forecasts indicate some sectors are showing signs of recovery, but even with increases in income across the beef and sheep sector, profitability still falls some way short of 2011/12 levels. There’s good news for pig and dairy producers with year on year increases of 90% and 96% respectively - the dairy sector reversing the trend seen in 2012/13 when incomes fell by 40%.

“Although improved planting figures bode well for the upcoming harvest, incomes for arable producers are estimated to fall further, linked to lower commodity prices and the UK’s lowest wheat harvest for over a decade.

“It is vital we have viable and successful farming businesses at the foundation of our agri-food sector. As an industry, agriculture has performed strongly through the recession with our contribution to the economy increasing by a staggering 54% between 2007 and 2012. Some exceptional climatic challenges have dampened performance in the short term, but the forecasts show the resilience of our industry and demonstrate how some sectors are making steps towards recovery.”

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