Pig farm incomes down sharply
The average Farm Business Income (FBI) for specialist pig farms is set to fall in 2015/16 by 46% year on year, from £49,400 to £26,500, according to the latest forecasts from Defra.
This is the largest year on year decrease on record and would represent the lowest FBI for pig farms since 2007/08. At that time, animal feed prices were increasing while pig prices were falling, which forced many English pig farmers out of business. The sharp fall that has been recorded this year reiterates the downward sentiment of the GB pig market at the moment. Indeed, with pig prices falling particularly sharply in recent weeks, the final FBI estimate may end up being lower still. However unlike in 2007/08, input costs, particularly feed, are expected to decrease through the year, which brings some comfort in what can only be described as hard times for pig producers.
The decline of 46% was the largest proportional fall for any type of farm, with the dairy sector close behind, recording a decrease of 45% on the year. Cereals and general cropping are also projected to record decreases in FBI for 2015/16, of 24% and 17% respectively. Nevertheless, the latest data shows a yearly increase in average FBI for the poultry sector of 14% to £145,000, driven by lower feed and heating costs. It is worth bearing in mind, however, that the number of poultry farms in the sample is small so the forecasts may not be representative of the whole industry. Grazing livestock also recorded an average increase of 25% in FBI with fuel and feed costs expected to fall slightly for lowland farmers, while upland farmers have benefitted from an increase in the Basic Payment Scheme.