Northern Ireland's total farm income soared by a third last year, according to the department's first provisional estimate for 2020.

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) figures published today (April 15) indicate that the ‘Total Income from Farming’ (TIFF) in Northern Ireland increased by 34%.

The increase from £342 million in 2019 to £456 million last year represents a 26% increase in 'real terms'.

As it's the first estimate, it's worth noting that revisions have been made to total farm income figures in previous years.

Aggregate Agricultural Income

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.

Source: DAERA

Total Gross Output for agriculture in Northern Ireland was 4% higher at £2.23 billion in 2020. There was a 4% increase in the value of output from the livestock sector, while field crops fell by 12% and horticulture was 6% lower.

These figures are for the calendar year and therefore they represent the outturn across two harvest years.

Sectoral breakdown

It was a good year across almost all of the sectors. The dairy, beef, sheep and pork sectors saw all increases overall in the value of outputs, while arable and poultry meat were the only two to see falls.

Sheep saw the biggest uplift, with income up 27% over the year, followed by a 20% increase for pork producers.


Direct payments were also up, with the estimated value of the 2020 Basic Payment Scheme, Greening Payment and Young Farmers’ Payment totalling £297 million.

It represents an increase of 4%, compared to 2019 payments.

Dairy income in Northern Ireland

Dairying remains the largest contributor to the total value of Gross Output at £667 million in 2020; an increase of 2% between 2019 and 2020.

The annual average farm-gate milk price decreased by 0.7% to 27.01p/L, while the volume of raw milk produced in Northern Ireland increased by 2% to 2.4 billion litres.

Beef income up 2%

The total output value of beef cattle and cull cows was 2% higher at £438 million in 2020.

The total number of animals slaughtered decreased by 2.4% in 2020; whereas, the average carcase weights for clean and cull animals were 1% and 2% higher. These changes resulted in the volume of meat produced being 0.4% higher in 2020.

The average producer price for finished clean cattle was £3.46/kg in 2020 while the average producer price for cull animals was £2.43/kg.

These prices were 6.1% and 8.2% higher than the respective averages for 2019.

In addition to these changes, there were also increases in the number of breeding and store cattle imported to Northern Ireland in 2020.

Sheep income up 27%

The value of output from sheep increased by 27% to £84 million in 2020.

The total number of sheep slaughtered increased by 6% in 2020, whereas, the average carcass weight decreased by 2% to 22kg.

This resulted in the volume of sheep meat produced being 3% higher in 2020. Over the same period, the average producer price also increased by 15% to £4.46/kg.

Pig and poultry

The value of output in the pig sector increased by 20% to £217 million in 2020 while the egg sector increased by 11% to £128 million. However, the value of poultry output fell by 3% to £299 million.

All intensive sectors recorded an increase in production volumes, with pigs up by 10%, eggs up by 5%, and poultry up 3% compared with the previous year.

The producer prices in the pigs and eggs sectors increased by 8% and 6% respectively, whereas, the producer price for poultry reduced by 5%.

Arable incomes

The total output value for field crops fell by 12% in 2020 to £62 million.

This was as a result of decreases in the volumes due to lower yields and more spring cereal crops grown in 2020.

The value of output for cereals decreased by 7% to £31 million, whereas, the value of output for potatoes decreased by 10% to £21 million.

Output values for field crops are across a calendar year and include production from two harvests.

The value of output recorded in the horticulture sector was lower year-on-year for 2020, at £95 million.

Mushrooms were the largest contributor to this sector in value terms, with an estimated output value of £46 million.