36% of FBS-surveyed farms applied for Covid-19 support

Around 36% of the farms surveyed as part of the annual Farm Business Survey (FBS) applied for at least one of the Covid-19 related grants, loans and schemes, according to the survey estimates published by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) today (Thursday, December 16).

The amount received for the various funding varied widely, from an average of £500/farm for those claiming under the Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme, to an average of £66,600 for those making use of the Business Interruption Loan.

Around 4% of the farms represented by the FBS received support from the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, with an average funding of £13,200/farm.

Cereal farms and horticulture farms were the most likely to use the scheme and, for those who did, the support related to around 5% of the total hours worked.

The Dairy Response Fund was a one-off payment to help dairy farmers facing financial difficulties as a result of Covid-19. Eligible dairy farms were able to claim up to £10,000, calculated on around 70% of their losses from actual milk sales during April and May 2020.

The average payment from the Dairy Response Fund was £6,400. It is estimated that around 200 farms in the FBS made a claim from the fund – about 3% of the dairy farms in the survey.

Around 18% of farms received support from the Self-employed Income Support Scheme Grant, with the highest uptake among grazing livestock farms.

Running from April 2020 until the March 31, 2021, the Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) helped small and medium-sized businesses (generally these are ones with less than 250 employees) to borrow between £2,000 and up to 25% of their turnover.

Around 10,000 farms in the FBS used the BBLS, with the average loan received for all farm types of £40,000.  Just over a quarter of those taking out the loans were lowland grazing livestock farms who received an average of £28,900/farm.

Dairy farms received the highest average loan and the South West was the region with the highest proportion of farms receiving the loan (23%).

Table: Defra/Gov.uk/FBS

FBS survey

The FBS survey provides information on the financial position and physical and economic performance of commercial businesses in England. It covers all types of farming in all regions of the country and includes owner-occupied, tenanted and mixed-tenure farms.

In 2020/21, additional data relating to Covid-19 support schemes, grants and loans was collected, covering the period March 2020 to February 2021 – the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The FBS only includes farm businesses with a Standard Output of at least €25,000, based on activity recorded in the previous June Survey of Agriculture and Horticulture.

In 2020, this accounted for approximately 56,048 farm businesses. The sample was slightly smaller as a result of Covid-19 restriction on data collection.

These results, as with all statistical surveys, are subject to sampling error, Defra note.