Friday, 8 January 2021
By Charlie Reeve
Defra’s latest set of Farm Business Income accounts have now been released. The figures are based on 2019/20 with an accounting year ending February 2020 and replace the estimates for this period published in February last year.
Based on the Farm Business Survey (FBS) results, average farm business income for English specialist pig farms jumped up during 2019/20 with a 27% increase on the previous year. Farm business income is estimated at £37,700, an increase of £8,100 on the previous year.
One of the major drivers for the increase in income was reduced input costs; in particular, lower feed costs were observed during 2019/20. Fixed costs on farm such as property, machinery and regular labour were also reported to be down, following on from an increase during the previous year.
High farmgate pig prices during 2019/20 was another major driver of income for the pig industry with pig meat prices up on the previous year. Pig prices were well supported throughout the year by demand for protein from China following the African Swine Fever outbreak.
The sample of specialist pig farms used for Defra’s Farm Business Survey reported a decrease in pig throughput for the 2019/20 period. This limited output from pigs despite the higher farmgate prices. However, Defra acknowledge that the FBS sample for specialist pig enterprises is relatively small, which means it may not represent the English pig industry overall. Defra slaughter figures for England and Wales indicate that overall clean pig throughputs were actually up year-on-year by around 2%. Due to the limitations in the data, estimates for pig farm business income should be treated with some caution.
Looking at the wider agricultural industry, the profitability of the other sectors over the year was mixed. A heavy reliance on BPS and agri-environment payments remains across most sectors. DEFRA calculated that the average basic payment received by businesses totalled £27,800 across all types of farming enterprises.
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