Northern Ireland agricultural incomes in 2017

Date published: 30 January 2018

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) today published the first (provisional) estimate for farm incomes in 2017. Revisions have been made to previous years.

DARD statistics

Aggregate Agricultural Income

Provisional figures indicate that the ‘Total Income from Farming’ (TIFF) in Northern Ireland rose by 87% (82% in real terms) from £253million in 2016 to £473million in 2017.

TIFF represents the return on own labour, management input and own capital invested for all those with an entrepreneurial involvement in farming. It represents farm income measured at the sector level.

Total Gross Output for agriculture in Northern Ireland was 17% higher at £2.09billion in 2017.  There was a 21% increase in the value of output from the livestock sector, while field crops rose by 14% and horticulture was 4% higher. These figures are for the calendar year and therefore they represent the outturn across two harvest years.

Dairying remains the largest contributor to the total value of Gross Output at £662million in 2017; a rise of 46%. The annual average farm-gate milk price rose by 42% in 2017 to 28.7 pence per litre while the volume of raw milk produced in Northern Ireland increased by 4% to 2.3 billion litres.

The output value of cattle was 6% higher at £460million in 2017. The total number of animals slaughtered increased by 1% in 2017, but with average carcase weights for both clean and cull animals falling by 2%, the volume of meat produced was marginally lower. The average producer price for finished clean cattle was £3.48 per kilogram in 2017 while the average producer price for cull animals was £2.47 per kilogram. These average prices were 9% and 14% higher than the respective averages for 2016.  

The value of output from sheep decreased by 2% to £73million in 2017. The market value of the sector increased by 4% for the year but this was offset by a significant stock change movement. The increase in market value was a combination of a 2% increase in the producer price (to £3.97 per kg) and a 1% increase in the total number of sheep slaughtered. The total volume of sheep-meat produced was 1% higher than 2016. The average carcase weight was 22 kilograms.   

There were increases in the values of output for all three intensive livestock sectors during 2017, with the pig sector increasing by 35% to £163million, the egg sector by 5% to £100 million, while the value of poultry output increased by 9% to £275million. All three sectors recorded an increase in production volumes, with eggs and poultry (both) up by 9% while pigs were marginally higher compared with the previous year. The producer prices in the poultry and pig sectors rose by 4% and 29%, respectively, whereas the producer price for eggs reduced by 3%.

The total output value for field crops increased by 14% in 2017 to £66million. This was as a result of increases in the price for barley, wheat and oats. Values across a calendar year reflect two harvests. The value of output of potatoes in 2017 also rose, to £24million. This was a result of an increase in potato production due to an increase in the area grown in 2017, while the producer price remained static. The value of output for wheat increased by 31% to £11million and the output value of barley rose by 6% to £18million.

The value of output recorded in the horticulture sector was also higher in 2017, at £108million. This was driven in part by volume increases in the fruit and flowers sectors. The mushroom sector is the largest of these sectors by value, with an estimated output value of £53million.

The estimated value of 2017 direct subsidies (Basic, Greening and Young Farmer payments) was £287million, representing an increase of 5%, when compared with the 2016 payments. This was due to the more favourable exchange rate between Sterling and the Euro.

The total value of Gross Inputs increased by 8% in 2017, to £1.45billion. Feedstuff costs, which accounted for 54% of the total Gross Input estimate, rose by 11% to £783million in 2017. There was a 9% increase in the volume of feedstuffs purchased and a 2% increase in the average price paid per tonne. 

The total cost of fertiliser purchases in 2017 rose by 20% as a result of a 16% rise in the volume purchased and a 3% increase in the average price paid per tonne. There was a 6% reduction in total lime purchases, with the result that total expenditure on fertilisers and lime was £84million.

Total machinery expenses increased by 4% to £143million in 2017, as a result of an 8% increase in the cost of fuel and oils. This is in line with the global commodity price during the year.

A detailed document covering the period 2011–2017 and containing all the key figures used to derive TIFF in Northern Ireland can be downloaded from the DAERA website.

Estimates for the United Kingdom will not be released until April 2018 and a breakdown of TIFF for the UK will not be available until then.

Farm level incomes

Farm Business Income results are based on farm accounts collected as part of the Northern Ireland Farm Business Survey (FBS). This is a representative sample of farms larger than 0.5 Standard Labour Requirements. The income figures presented are for accounting years with an average end date of mid-February.

Farm Business Income measured across all farm types is expected to increase from an average £21,928 in 2016/17 to £37,880 in 2017/18, i.e. an increase of £15,952 or 73% per farm. 

Farm Business Income is also expected to rise (by varying amounts) for Dairy, Pigs and Mixed farm types between 2016/17 and 2017/18. For these farms, the upturn in their incomes is mainly attributed to higher milk and pig prices in the 2017/18 accounting year. The results also show that Farm Business Income is expected to fall by varying amounts on Cereals, Cattle and Sheep (LFA) and Cattle and Sheep (Lowland) farms for 2017/18 when compared with the previous year. These farm types also experienced higher product prices in 2017/18 but the associated rises were deemed insufficient to offset the combined effect of reduced receipts from agri-environment schemes and the extra weather related costs that these farms incurred.   

A detailed analysis of farm incomes by type and size of farm in 2016/17 will be provided in the report ‘Farm Incomes in Northern Ireland 2016/17’ which will be published on the DAERA website in March 2018 

Notes to editors: 

  1. A wide range of statistics are available on the DAERA website and also via Twitter: @DAERAstats.
  2. Provisional aggregate income figures for the UK will be issued in April 2018 on the government portal - Total income from farming in the UK - Publications - GOV.UK.
  3. The Northern Ireland estimates were prepared using provisional figures and are subject to revision when more complete data becomes available later in the year.
  4. Total Income from Farming’ measures the return to farmers, partners and directors, their spouses and other family workers for their labour, management input and own capital invested. It, therefore, represents the total income of all those with an entrepreneurial involvement in farming.
  5. Farm level income estimates by farm type are based on the Department’s Farm Business Survey, for which the account year ends on average in mid-February, whereas the aggregate income estimate – Total Income from Farming - is compiled on a calendar year basis.
  6. Farm Business Income is the return to all unpaid labour (farmer, spouses and others with an entrepreneurial interest in the farm business) and to their capital invested in the farm business which includes land and buildings. 
  7. As income estimates by farm type are based on data collected from a sample of the farm population, they are subject to sampling error. 
  8. For UK statistical purposes, farms are grouped into 10 ‘robust’ farm types which have particular relevance to UK conditions i.e. Cereals, General Cropping, Horticulture, Specialist Pigs, Specialist Poultry, Dairy, Cattle and Sheep (LFA), Cattle and Sheep (Lowland), Mixed and Other. The system for the classification of farms into these types is based on that set out in Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2015/220 and explained in greater detail in the EU Farm Accountancy Data Network (FADN) Typology Handbook RI/CC 1500 rev.4.
  9. The EU and UK system for classification of farms was revised in 2011. Farms are now classified in terms of Standard Output (SO) compared to Standard Gross Margin (SGM) used previously. Further details of the impact of this change are presented in the report ‘Farm Incomes in Northern Ireland 2010/11’ which is available on the DAERA website.
  10. The ‘Statistical Review of Northern Ireland Agriculture, 2017’, due to be issued on the DAERA website on 29 March 2018, will contain details of the output, input and income estimates for 2017, as well as information on livestock numbers, crop areas and yields, farm structure, employment and farm business performance.
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  12. All media queries should be directed to the DAERA Press Office on 028 9052 4619 or email DAERA Press Office. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07623 974 383 and your call will be returned.

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