Farming profits increase after two years of decline
TOTAL income from farming is estimated to have increased by £96 million in 2016, after two years of decline.
The chief statistician for the Scottish Government published Total Income From Farming (TIFF) estimates for Scotland 2014-2016, which contains estimates of TIFF for 2015 and an initial estimate of 2016 TIFF.
The figures show income fell by 16 per cent in 2015 compared to the previous year, but initial estimates for 2016 suggest an increase of 15 per cent.
Agriculture was worth £653 million to the Scottish economy in 2015, down from £775 million in 2014, with subsidies, milk and barley all seeing big falls.
Overall, livestock is estimated to have seen a small increase in value in 2016.
The largest sector, the beef industry, again remained reasonably steady in 2016 after initial falls in price in the first half of the year.
The average milk price fell 23 per cent in 2015, and nine per cent in 2016. This resulted in £126 million, or 28 per cent, being wiped off the value of milk between 2014 and 2016, down to £ 328 million.
Eggs dropped back an estimated nine per cent during 2016 to £ 83 million.
Cereals fell 12 per cent in 2015 and a further eight per cent in 2016, with barley now worth an estimated £180 million and wheat £104 million. Potatoes saw a boost in 2016, with improved ware prices and volume resulting in an estimated in- crease of £ 38 million, or 23 per cent, to £209 million.
The vegetable sector saw a small decrease in value in 2015, but looks more positive in 2016, and now stands at an estimated £123 million. Fruit, on the other hand, dropped back in 2016 from the very high value of 2015, and now stands at £115 million, though still on a strongly upward trend.
Total costs were estimated to have fallen slightly in both years. Feed costs fell £49 million in 2015 to £ 532 million, and may fall further in 2016 to an estimated £ 515 million.
The cost of fertiliser was fairly steady in 2015, but is estimated to have fallen £ 33 million to £153 million in 2016. Fuel costs fell 17 per cent in 2015 but look like remaining steady in 2016 at £119 million.
Labour costs look like increasing only slightly in 2016, to £ 381 million, following an eight per cent increase in 2015.
Subsidies, including coupled support, amounted to £480 million in 2015 and £ 533 million in 2016. The 2016 figure, which for accounting purposes is based on the payment year irrespective of when payments are actually made, is made up of £400 million in pillar 1 support, a further £91 million in pillar 2 payments, and £42 million in coupled support.
In the longer term, income from farming has been rising steadily since a dip in the late 1990s. However, within that trend the figures have fluctuated from year to year.
The publication also includes a range of related data. This includes comparisons with elsewhere in the UK, which show Scotland and Wales consistently below other areas, with Northern Ireland at similar levels to the lower performing English regions.
Scottish regional estimates show that, on a per hectare basis, the highest level of income from farming was in the north- east. Productivity indicators, which measure the amount of output per input, irrespective of prices, show improved productivity each year since 2012.
Income from farming information is used to monitor the performance of the industry, but also as part of the calculation of Scottish GDP and in the UK national accounts. The 2016 figures will be revised next year, once more complete data are available.
The figures released recently were produced by independent statistical staff, free from any political interference, in accordance with professional standards set out in the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.
Livestock is seen to have made a small increase in value in 2016.