UK pig production incomes plummet as dairy farm turnover soars and cereals see upturn

Pig farm incomes slumped last year, statistics show Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Pig farm incomes slumped last year, statistics show Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Sarah Lucy brown

UK pig farms were the only agricultural sector to see a fall in income in the last financial year, as input costs rose and output fell, figures show.

Dairy farm incomes rose last year Picture: SU ANDERSON

Dairy farm incomes rose last year Picture: SU ANDERSON - Credit: Su Anderson

Incomes plummeted by an average 46% in 2017/18, from £57,800 to £31,300, according to data collected for the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs’ (DEFRA) Farm Business Income report.

Meanwhile, poultry farms saw incomes soar by 77% from £54,200 to £96,000. However, DEFRA points out that the sample size for the two sectors is relatively small with average incomes therefore subject to greater variation.

Overall, the picture for farms was a positive one, with income per farm rising by an average 49% from £38,000 to £56,500 at current prices.

But agricultural output was 2% lower on pig farms, largely due to reduced output due to smaller operations.

“Pig revenue increased by 8% in 2017/18 as lower throughput was offset by an increase in finished pig prices. However, there was a considerable fall in the closing valuation as both pig prices and numbers were lower than at the beginning of the year,” the study said. “The opposite occurred in 2016/17, meaning that this large change in the difference between opening and closing stocks offset the increased output.”

Pig farm costs rose by 3%, with the largest rises for feed and fodder and land and property costs partly offset by falls in crop and labour costs. Average Basic Payment figures were lower, reflecting a reduction in the size of pig farms.

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Dairy saw the most dramatic rise in fortunes as milk prices recovered from a crippling low, the report shows, with incomes rising 140% from £50,000 in 2016/17 to £119,700 last year.

Production on dairy farms rose by 8%, due to a rise in cow numbers rather than yield. Average milk prices were 29.6p a litre, 23% higher than in 2016/17, although there was a “wide variation”, with some farmers receiving considerably more or less than the average. Basic Payments rose by 13%, accounting for around a quarter of dairy farms’ Farm Business Income.

Cereal farms saw a 49% increase from £43,100 to £64,200, primarily due to higher output. They enjoyed higher prices for wheat and barley, off the back of a weakened pound, and increased yields due to a favourable growing season.