Farm incomes fell by 9 per cent in 2014 – and all indications are that they will record a further fall of 15 per cent in 2015, according to government figures released yesterday.
Marking only the second time since the grim days of the 1990s that there has been a significant drop in two consecutive years, agriculture was worth £777 million to the Scottish economy in 2014, down from £837m in 2013, with support payments, potatoes and barley all seeing big drops.
Estimates put the 2015 figure at £667m, which, after inflation, was the lowest figure for more than a decade. This time the dairy sector also suffered, along with the poultry-meat industry which lost half its value in two years. But while common agricultural policy (CAP) support fell again in 2015, it still represented a growing proportion of farmers’ smaller incomes.
Overall, livestock saw a small decrease in value in both years, with beef suffering a small decline in 2014 followed by a partial recovery in 2015. However, sheep and pig farmers saw rises in 2014 being offset by falls in 2015.
The average milk price fell 23 per cent in 2015, resulting in a drop of 21 per cent in the value of the sector, while income from eggs increased 14 per cent in 2015 to £94m, putting it ahead of poultry-meat production for the first time. Cereal and potato incomes fell in both years, while the fruit sector marked a bright spot with a considerable growth in income recorded.