Northern Ireland milk volumes increased last year on 2014 by 2.7%, figures from the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) show.

Some 2264.90m litres of milk were produced in the North last year.

December milk production on farms in Northern Ireland was also up on the corresponding month in 2014 by 2.6% to 180.59m litres.

The figures also show that the weighted average farmgate milk price (including retrospective bonuses) for 2015 was 20.75c/L (27.01c/L) in the North.

This price is 8.56p/L (11.16c/L) lower than the same period in 2014.

For December 2015, the Northern Ireland average farmgate price of milk was 19.83p/L (25.86c/L) , 2.95p/L (3.84c/L) lower than December 2014.

As milk prices in fell in Northern Ireland so too did farm incomes – by 41% in 2015 on 2014.

The ‘Total Income from Farming’ (TIFF) in Northern Ireland fell by 41% in 2015 (42% in real terms) to £183m from £312m in 2014.

Total Income From Farming figure represents the return on own labour, management input and own capital invested for all those with an entrepreneurial involvement in farming, according to DARD.

TIFF represents farm income measured at the sector level.

The total value of Gross Output for agriculture in Northern Ireland decreased by 9% to £1.74billion in 2015.

This was driven by a 13% decline in the value of output from the livestock sector as a whole in 2015.

Looking at dairying, it remained the largest contributor to the total value of Gross Output despite falling by 27% to £480m in 2015.

Meanwhile, the output value of cattle was marginally higher at £394m in 2015.

While the number of animals slaughtered fell by 2%, this was more than offset by a 9kg increase in the average carcase weight, resulting in a 2% increase in the volume of meat produced.

The average producer price for finished clean cattle was £3.26/kg in 2015