Rising farmgate prices push up FBI, but increased feed costs prevent further rises
Defra has now released Farm Business Income (FBI) data for England for 2017/18. Average Farm Business Income increased for all farms apart from specialist pig farms, according to the Farm Business Survey (FBS) data from Defra. Perhaps un-surprisingly, exchange rate changes were a large influencing factor. A weaker pound leading to price rises for a number of commodities, and increasing the value of the Basic Payment, which was 13% higher year-on-year.
Lowland grazing livestock farms recorded an average increase in income of 36%, to £21,900. Cattle output remained the main revenue source for the farms, being supported by higher prices from the weaker pound and tighter supplies. Store prices were also higher than in the previous year. Fat lamb prices also increased which supported sheep incomes. Agricultural costs rose by 1%, with the increase in feed costs largely offset by reduced crop costs. Despite the output increase, on average lowland grazing livestock farms failed to make a positive return on farming actives, although losses were reduced compared with year earlier levels.
Average income on LFA grazing farms increased 5% year-on-year, to £28,300. This increase in income however was offset by higher costs especially for feed and fodder. In contrast to the lowland grazing livestock farms, those in LFA grazing farms recorded a greater average loss from agricultural activities than in the previous year.
Mixed farms recorded an increase in income, 45% in 2017/2018, to £41,800. However, costs also rose and therefore on average these farms recorded a loss from agriculture, albeit at a reduced level from the previous year.
On average dairy farms recorded an income that had more than doubled on the previous year, to £119,700. On average production was up 8% driven by an increase in number of cows rather than yields, while average milk prices increased by 23% to 29.6p/litre. When considering this number however, Defra notes there was a wide variation in milk prices last year and therefore individual farm results also vary. Agricultural costs also recorded a rise, especially for purchased feed.
Arable farms also recorded an increase in farm business income, largely due to increased output with yields increasing and some higher prices which were supported by the weaker pound. For the first time in several years, cereals farms recorded a positive return from agriculture.
Income on specialist pig farms fell by 46%, largely due to lower production which was only partially offset by an increase in finish pig prices. The sample for specialist pig units is small for the FBS and therefore individual farms can have a large influence on the results. Reflecting trends on other livestock farms, feed and fodder costs increased, which was partially offset by a decline in labour costs.
Rebecca Oborne, Analyst
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