Farm business incomes increase despite volatile year

In 2020/21, average farm business income in England increased across nearly all sectors
In 2020/21, average farm business income in England increased across nearly all sectors

Farm business incomes increased across nearly all sectors in 2020-2021 despite the pandemic, adverse weather conditions and Brexit, according to Defra figures.

In the year ending February 2021, average farm business incomes in England increased across all farm types except general cropping and specialist poultry.

The updated figures, released by the government this week, replace April's forecast estimates which had predicted a major drop in income.

It was a far from typical year, with the Covid-19 pandemic, the extremely wet winter and dry spring of 2020, and the end of the EU exit transition period.

The new results show that on cereal farms, average income increased by 14% to £71,700; firm prices helped to offset lower yields for some crops and higher fixed costs.

However, for general cropping farms, income fell by 21% to £66,900 with lower input costs insufficient to offset a drop in crop output, the result of reduced yields and areas for crops such as sugar beet and oilseed rape.

Defra's report says that on dairy farms, average income increased by 9% to £92,500, with revenue from other cattle enterprises, which rose by 13 percent, a key driver.

Lowland grazing livestock farms saw average income nearly double to £18,400, driven by a rise in output from cattle and sheep enterprises which more than compensated for a fall in crop output.

For grazing livestock farms in Less Favoured Areas (LFAs) similar drivers resulted in an average income of £33,400, a 46 percent increase compared to 2019/20.

On specialist pig farms, Defra says average income increased to £48,000 with firmer prices at the start of the year helping to offset later prices falls and a rise in costs, particularly for feed.

Average incomes on specialist poultry farms fell to £77,700; increases to egg and crop output and higher income from diversified activities were not enough to offset lower output from poultry meat.

The average Basic Payment across all farm types was £28,400, which was little change compared to 2019, the updated results show.