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Agriculture has Taken a Financial Hit, Says UFU

31 January 2020

NORTHERN IRELAND, UK - The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) says the Northern Ireland agriculture industry has taken a significant financial hit in the past year with virtually all farm commodities seeing a decrease on average regarding farm income.

The comments were made following the release of the first (provisional) estimate for farm incomes in 2019 by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA). The provisional income figures show that the 'Total Income from Farming' (TIFF) in Northern Ireland fell from £386 million in 2018 to £290 million in 2019.

UFU president Ivor Ferguson said, "The figures stress the unsustainable financial situation that farm families across Northern Ireland endured last year as farm income across virtually all commodities experienced a substantial drop.

"It is a clear indicator that the uncertainty farmers have been dealing with combined with increasing machinery, feed and fertiliser prices over the last few years is beginning to seriously impact their farming businesses.

"Lowland and less favoured area (LFA) livestock are in real trouble. The LFA cattle and sheep farm business income for 2018/2019 has decreased by £3,357 when compared to 2017/2018 and lowland cattle and sheep farm business income dropped by £4,363."

Farm business income for cattle and Sheep (LFA and lowland), cereals, dairy and mixed farm types is expected to fall by varying amounts between 2018/2019 and 2019/2020. The downturn is mainly attributed to lower output prices in the 2019/20 accounting year however, pig farms are expected to show an increase in incomes due to higher pig meat prices in 2019/20.

Mr Ferguson continued, "The drop in farm income means our farmers now have a greater dependence on agricultural support. These figures illustrate the importance of support payments in sustaining the industry and underpinning its competitive trading position.

"The UFU firmly believe that a profitable agriculture industry is key to providing a healthy economy, generational renewal and a better environment.

"As we look to the future this is a once in a generation chance for the local government to develop a NI specific agricultural policy. One that drives integration of profitable food production maintaining our world leading environment and welfare standards, and assuring farmers receive a sustainable farm income for the work they do."

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