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Farm Incomes in N. Ireland up 82% for 2017

According to the Dept. of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) provisional figures indicate that the ‘Total Income from Farming’ (TIFF)

in Northern Ireland rose by 87% (82% in real terms) from £253 million in 2016 to £473 million in 2017.

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.

Total Gross Output for agriculture in Northern Ireland was 17% higher at £2.09billion in 2017.  

There was a 21% increase in the value of output from the livestock sector, while field crops rose by 14% and horticulture was 4% higher.

Dairying remains the largest contributor to the total value of Gross Output at £662million in 2017; a rise of 46%.

The annual average farm-gate milk price rose by 42% in 2017 to 28.7 pence per litre while the volume of milk produced increased by 4% to 2.3 billion litres.


The output value of cattle was 6% higher at £460million in 2017.

The average producer price for finished clean cattle was £3.48 per kilogram in 2017 while the average producer price for cull animals was £2.47 per kilogram.

These average prices were 9% and 14% higher than the respective averages for 2016.  

The value of output from sheep decreased by 2% to £73million in 2017.

The market value of the sector increased by 4% for the year but this was offset by a significant stock change movement.

The increase in market value was a combination of a 2% increase in the producer price (to £3.97/kg) and a 1% increase in the total number of sheep slaughtered.

The total volume of sheep-meat produced was 1% higher than 2016. The average carcase weight was 22 kgs.   

There were increases in the values of output for all three intensive livestock sectors during 2017, with the pig sector increasing by 35% to £163million,

the egg sector by 5% to £100 million, while the value of poultry output increased by 9% to £275million.

All three sectors recorded an increase in production volumes, with eggs and poultry (both) up by 9% while pigs were marginally higher.

The producer prices in the poultry and pig sectors rose by 4% and 29%, respectively, whereas the producer price for eggs reduced by 3%.

The total output value for field crops increased by 14% in 2017 to £66million.

This was as a result of increases in the price for barley, wheat and oats.

The value of output of potatoes in 2017 also rose, to £24million.

The value of output for wheat increased by 31% to £11million and the output value of barley rose by 6% to £18million.

The value of output recorded in the horticulture sector was also higher in 2017, at £108million.

This was driven in part by volume increases in the fruit and flowers sectors.

The mushroom sector is the largest of these sectors by value, with an estimated output value of £53million.

The estimated value of 2017 direct subsidies (Basic, Greening and Young Farmer payments) was £287million,

representing an increase of 5%, when compared with the 2016 payments.

This was due to the more favourable exchange rate between Sterling and the Euro.

The total value of Gross Inputs increased by 8% in 2017, to £1.45billion.

Feedstuff costs, which accounted for 54% of the total Gross Input estimate, rose by 11% to £783million in 2017.

There was a 9% increase in the volume of feedstuffs purchased and a 2% increase in the average price paid per tonne. 

The total cost of fertiliser purchases in 2017 rose by 20% as a result of a 16% rise in the volume purchased and a 3% increase in the average price/tonne.

There was a 6% reduction in total lime purchases, with the result that total expenditure on fertilisers and lime was £84million.

Total machinery expenses increased by 4% to £143million in 2017, as a result of an 8% increase in the cost of fuel and oils.


Northern Ireland June 2017 Agri Census

The main changes between June 2016 and June 2017 are as follows:


The area of cereals grown decreased by 2% to 32,600 ha with winter wheat, winter barley and oats all decreasing in 2017. The area of spring barley grown is similar to the previous year with 14,700 ha planted.

Other crops:

The area in other field crops is 7% higher than last year, which is due to increases in the areas planted under potatoes, arable crop silage and forage maize. The area of potatoes increased by 9% to 4,100 ha. The arable crop silage increased by 4% to 3,500 ha, the area of forage maize increased by 12% to 1,400ha. 


Total cattle numbers were unchanged from June 2016. From its all-time high in 2016, the number of dairy cows decreased slightly to 315,800 head. The number of beef cows decreased by 1% to 267,100 head.


There was a 2% rise in the number of breeding ewes. Numbers have fluctuated in recent years, falling to a 20 year low of 876,000 in 2010 before increasing to 972,000 this year, which is the highest level since 2006. Overall, the total number of sheep recorded was almost 2.1 million a level not seen since 2006.


Sow numbers increased by 3% to 41,400, and the overall pig herd was 8% larger. The growth in the number of fattening pigs has caused the most increase in total numbers.


Laying birds increased by 10% to 3.9 million birds while broiler numbers increased by 9%. The laying bird population has shown strong growth partly due to new producers who have entered the industry.

Farmers and workers:

The size of the agricultural labour force is relatively unchanged with 47,800 workers. There has been a small decrease in the number of full-time farmers but this was off-set by an increase in the number of other regular workers.

Irish Farm Incomes Down 9% in 2016

A preliminary estimate of the Teagasc National Farm Survey results show that family farm income decreased by 9% in 2016. The average farm income was €24,060. This is the return for the farmers’ labour and for the land and capital employed in the business. 

According to Teagasc despite increased direct payments and a reduction in some key inputs such as fertiliser, further falls in milk prices and poorer crop yields than in recent years, resulted in a 9 percent decline in average farm income in 2016. 

The continued roll-out of GLAS and the Beef Data Genomics Programme (BDGP) saw direct payments on cattle farms increase by between 5 and 11% in 2016.  This increase helped offset lower cattle prices so the average income on cattle farms increased by between 2% and 4% in 2016 depending on the production system. However average cattle farm incomes are quite low, at just €12,908.

Milk price was down almost 10% in 2016 on the back of a 20% reduction in 2015, despite this, milk production continued to expand in 2016. Income on dairy farms fell by 17 percent to an average of €51,809. Analysis of farms over the period since quota removal, shows that 4 out of every 5 dairy farms have increased production.

Tillage farms were severely affected by poor crop yields in 2016. Coupled with a reduction in the price of cereals, this resulted in a 10% fall in average incomes to €30,816.  Lamb prices decreased by 2% in 2016 and with direct payments receipts relatively unchanged the average sheep farm income remained stable at €16,011. 

Almost €690 million was invested by farmers in their businesses in 2016, of which over €245 million was invested on dairy farms. As in previous years two-thirds of farms have no business related debt. On the remaining one-third of farms the average debt level is €63,764 or 1.8 times the income level.   

Farming continues to remain highly reliant on direct payments. The average direct payment per farm was nearly €18,000 in 2016, comprising 75 percent of farm income on average and almost 100 percent for the average cattle and average sheep farm.

Almost one in three farmers working elsewhere off-farm. Just over half of all farm households have an off-farm income source from either the farm-holder or spouse.

Average farm income has become less volatile over the last five years. For 2017, prospects for dairy are very positive while average incomes on drystock farms should be stable.

More Livestock, Pigs, Poultry & Tillage but Less Farmers in Northern Ireland (NI)

The Statistical Review of NI Agriculture is published annually and contains a wide range of interesting statistics on the agri industry

The agricultural income of NI farms increased in 2016 from a low base in 2015. • Total income from farming (TIFF) increased by 21 per cent in real terms to £244 million, from £199 million in 2015. • TIFF is now 11 per cent above the average of the last twenty years after accounting for inflation. • The increase in TIFF in 2016 is due mainly to an 18 per cent rise in the value of direct CAP subsidy payments which was the result of a weakening of the value of Sterling against the Euro.

Gross output of NI agriculture is valued at £1.76 billion for 2016 which is similar to the estimate for 2015. There was a 1.1 per cent increase in the value of the livestock sector, which was offset by a 13 per cent decrease in the horticulture sector and 2.1 per cent fall in field crops

Gross input decreased by 2.3 per cent, to £1.35 billion. Feedstuff costs, which accounted for 53 per cent of the gross input, fell by 1.6 per cent in 2016 to £716 million. This was due to a 2.7 per cent fall in the volume of feedstuffs purchased, which was partially off-set by a rise in the price of feed by 1.0 per cent. The total cost of fertilisers fell by 6.7 per cent due to a 16 per cent decrease in average price which was offset by an 11 per cent increase in the volume purchased. Expenditure on lime also fell. Total machinery expenses decreased by 6.5 per cent to £129 million in 2016. This was largely due to an 11 per cent reduction in the cost of fuel & oils.

The value of all direct payments to farmers increased by £31 million or 11 per cent in 2016, to £318 million. This increase was due to an increase in direct CAP payments as a result of a more favourable exchange rate. The value of 2016 direct subsidies (Basic, Greening and Young Farmers payments) was £279 million; an increase of 43 per cent on 2015.

The number of cattle recorded in the June 2016 census was almost 1.7 million, an increase of 3.5 per cent compared to the previous year. At June 2016, there were 317,100 dairy cows; an increase of 1.8 per cent, and 269,700 beef cows; an increase of 3.6 per cent compared to 2015. In June 2016, the sheep breeding flock was 1.8 per cent higher with 955,200 ewes. Including lambs and other sheep the entire flock totalled 2.02 million in 2016

• At June 2016, the total number of pigs was 601,100, an increase of 5.5 per cent. There was a 1.8 per cent increase to 46,400 in sow numbers. Broiler numbers increased by 1.3 per cent to 14.5 million birds, while the size of 6 the commercial laying flock increased by 12 per cent to 3.6 million birds.

Between June 2015 and 2016 there was a 0.5 per cent increase in the total cropped area, to 44,500 hectares. The area of cereals was 33,400 hectares in June 2016, an increase of 1.6 per cent. In 2016, the total area of potatoes grown increased by 4.0 per cent to 3,700 hectares compared to the previous year.

 There were 24,528 active farm businesses in NI at June 2016, which was 379 less than in 2015. This decrease is in keeping with the long term trend in total farm numbers which for many years has been downward at a rate of about 1.5 per cent per annum.

Tractor Sales Down In Britain but Increase in N.Ireland

Across Britain tractor registrations for 2016 fell on average however Northern Ireland saw an increase of 3% from the previous year.

Interestingly, the demand for second-hand tractors is significantly on the rise across the UK at present.

Registrations of agricultural tractors over 50hp in the UK reached 10,602 units in 2016, a fall of 2.2% on the previous year. December showed a dramatic fall of 13.4% to 515 units.2016 registrations was the lowest total for more than a decade.

The first six months of 2016 saw 5,382 agricultural tractors over 50hp registered for road use, which worked out as a 9.8% fall on the first half of 2015.

However, the average size of unit was 158.5hp, which continues the upward power trend and represents a 2.7% increase on 2015 figures.

Sales of 161-200hp machines rose by 26% and tractors over 241hp went up by 19%.Tractors of 141-160hp saw a 30% drop, and 121-140hp machines fell by 17%.

John Deere is still the most popular tractor brand in the UK by a comfortable but narrowing margin, according to the Agricultural Engineers Association. Followed by New Holland and Massey Ferguson

Weak Sterling Helps Farm Incomes in Northern Ireland

The falling value of the pound following the Brexit vote helped increase farm incomes last year, in Northern Ireland by £45m.

This was a 22% increase in total income from farming (Tiff) for Northern Ireland, according to the provisional government estimates.

This took Tiff to £244m in Northern Ireland.

The weakening of sterling helped improve farmgate prices for grain, beef and lamb, as exports became more competitive on the Continent.

(Tiff) Total income from farming represents the return on labour, management input and own capital invested for all those involved with farming. 

In Northern Ireland, direct subsidies increased 18% to £276m.

A slight drop in total costs also helped, with feed bills down on 2015 and fertiliser also down while fuel and labour costs remained steady in 2016.

Sheep farms’ Tiff increased 15% in Northern Ireland.

Tiff for beef farmers increased by 6% in Northern Ireland because of a 7% jump in output.

Milk prices continued to tumble in 2016 and In Northern Ireland, the dairy industry remained the biggest contributor to Tiff, but it fell 6% to £452m.

Cereal farmers also saw a fall in Tiff –in Northern Ireland growers saw a 3% fall in incomes, largely due to adverse weather affecting barley yields.

Improved ware prices boosted Tiff for potatoes by 17% in Northern Ireland to £20m.

Farm Incomes in Republic of Ireland Reduced Slightly in 2016

Analysis by Teagasc economists indicates that farm margins dropped on most Irish farms in 2016 after the fall in sterling impacted on livestock prices.

Even though milk prices fell by over 10%, Irish milk production increased by about 5% in 2016."

Production costs fell, but margins were lower in 2016 due to the drop in the value of milk sales.

However a late season rally in milk prices helped limit the drop in dairy farm income.

Dairy sector competitiveness indicators produced by Teagasc also show that Irish dairy farms continued to be one of the lowest cost producers internationally in 2016

Increased supplies of beef and slowing demand led to lower cattle prices in 2016.

Ireland's reliance on the British market also contributed to a 5% drop in finished cattle prices after a fall in the value of sterling.

Sheep prices fell marginally compared with 2016, but margins on sheep farms increased by 3% when measured due to lower costs of production.

Margins were low for the Irish cereal sector in 2016 after a fall in yields amidst low cereal prices and another bumper global harvest.

Pig farmers had very low profitability in the first half of the year, offset by a significant improvement in the second half as China increased its pig meat imports.

In spite of the fall in margins, farm incomes are likely to be broadly in line with the 2015 level,

as receipts from the Basic Payment Scheme and GLAS should be higher in 2016.

More Cereals, Livestock & Poultry in Northern Ireland

Total cattle numbers in Northern Ireland were 3% higher in June 2016 than they were in June 2015, the preliminary results of the June Agricultural Census show.

The number of dairy cows in the North increased by 2% to 317,100 head on June last year, which is an all-time high.

The number of beef cows also increased, by 4%, to 269,700 head, the figures show.

There was also a 1% rise in the number of breeding ewes compared with 2015.

Overall, the total number of sheep recorded surpassed 2m which again is a level not seen since 2007.

The area of cereals grown increased by 2% to 33,600ha with winter wheat, winter barley and oats all increasing in 2016.

Spring barley fell by 3% but is still the most popular cereal crop with 15,200ha planted.

The area in other field crops is 4% lower than last year, which is partly due to a reduction in the areas planted under arable crop silage and forage maize.

The area of arable crop silage fell by 5% to 3,100ha, whereas, the area of forage maize fell by 8% to 1,400ha.

The area of potatoes increased by 4% to 3,700ha, a slight recovery from 2015 which had the lowest area ever recorded for the crop.

In comparison with 2015, sow numbers increased by 2% to 39,100 and the overall pig herd was 4% larger.

Laying birds recorded for June 1, 2016 increased by 20% to 3.8m birds while broiler poultry numbers increased by 4% at that date.

The laying bird population has shown strong growth since 2013 and this, DAERA said, is partly due to new producers who have entered the industry

Livestock Numbers Increase & Less Cereals Planted In Republic of Ireland


Preliminary estimates for June 2016 show that the area under cereals decreased by 14,800 hectares (-5.1%) to 277,600 ha.

The area under spring cereals (wheat, oats and barley) decreased by 24,900 ha (-16.0%), including a drop of 20,000 ha (-15.1%) in the area under spring barley.

 The area under winter cereals showed an increase of 10,200 ha (+7.5%) in the same period. There was an increase of 2.8% in the area under potatoes. 

The total number of cattle was 7,221,200, an increase 257,700 (+3.7%) on June 2015. The number of Dairy Cows increased by 102,100 (+7.9%)

 Cattle 1-2 years increased by 148,200 (+8.7%). Cattle 2 years and over (excluding cows and bulls) decreased by 92,600 (-11.5%). 

Total sheep numbers were up by 37,100 (+0.7%) to 5,175,800 while breeding sheep were up 0.8% and non-breeding sheep up 0.7%