NI total income from farming figures fell by 25% in 2019

Provisional figures indicate that the ‘Total Income from Farming’ (TIFF) in Northern Ireland fell by 25% (26% in real terms) in 2019, according to Northern Ireland’s Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA).

The TIFF figures dropped from £386 (€459) million in 2018 to £290 (€345) million last year, the department’s figures show.

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, according to DAERA.

Total Gross Output for agriculture in Northern Ireland was 2% lower at £2.15 (€2.55) billion in 2019.

There was a 4% decrease in the value of output from the livestock sector, while field crops rose by 7% and horticulture was 8% lower.

These figures are for the calendar year and therefore they represent the out-turn across two harvest years, DAERA notes.

Dairying remains the largest contributor to the total value of gross output at £654 (€777) million in 2019; a fall of 4%.

The output value of cattle was 7% lower at £427 (€507) million in 2019. The total number of animals slaughtered decreased by 2% in 2019, whereas, the average carcass weights for clean and cull animals were 2% and 3% higher.

The value of output from sheep decreased by 18% to £66 (€78) million in 2019. The total number of sheep slaughtered decreased by 5% in 2019 whereas the average carcass weight increased by 3% to 22.5kg.

This resulted in the volume of sheep meat produced being 2% lower in 2019. The average producer price decreased by 9% to £3.87 (€4.60) per kg.

The value of output in the poultry sector reduced by 7% to £309 (€367) million in 2019 while the egg sector was almost unchanged at £108 (€128) million.

The value of pig output increased by 14% to £179 (€213) million. Both the pigs and eggs sectors recorded an increase in production volumes, with pigs up by 11% and eggs up by 7% compared with the previous year.

The production volume for the poultry sector was 8% lower in 2019. The producer prices in the pigs and poultry sectors increased by 2% and 1% respectively, whereas, the producer price for eggs reduced by 6%.

The total output value for field crops increased by 7% in 2019 to £71 (€84) million. This was as a result of increases in the production volumes for both cereals and potatoes due to higher yields and more winter cereal crops grown in 2019.

The value of output recorded in the horticulture sector was lower year on year for 2019, at £101 (€120) million. Mushrooms is the largest contributor to this sector in value terms, with an estimated output value of £55 (€65) million.

The estimated value of the 2019 direct payments (Basic Payment Scheme, Greening Payment and Young Farmers’ Payment) was £286 (€340) million, representing a decrease of 0.2%, when compared with the 2018 payments.

Farm level incomes

These 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 decrease from an average £28,612 (€33,991) in 2018/19 to £24,679 (€29,319) in 2019/20, i.e. a decrease of £3,933 (€4,672) or 14% per farm.

Farm Business Income is expected to fall by varying amounts for cereals, dairy, cattle and sheep (LFA), cattle and sheep (Lowland) and mixed farm types between 2018/19 and 2019/20, according to DAERA.

For all these farm types, the downturn in their incomes is mainly attributed to lower output prices in the 2019/20 accounting year. In contrast, pig farms are expected to show an increase in incomes due to higher pigmeat prices in 2019/20.