Official figures highlight slump in farm incomes

Statistics confirming the woeful economic situation on many farms have been officially published by Scotland's Chief Statistician.

Dairy farms suffered a 14% drop in income last year. Picture: Robert Perry/TSPL

The 160-page Economic Report on Scottish Agriculture highlighted the fact that for almost half of farm businesses the income generated wouldn’t have been enough to pay the farmer the legal minimum agricultural wage.

The report covers 2015, which was affected by poor weather and a dip in prices and shows that one in five of farm businesses made a loss. The figures also showed that average income of commercial farms in Scotland had halved over the six-year period to 2014-15.

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Scots farm incomes fall by half in just four years

While most sectors suffered a fall in incomes on the year, dairy farm incomes dropped only 14 per cent, while hill sheep farms saw returns back by 50 per cent – and those on traditional mixed farming units fell by almost two thirds.

If income from support grants and subsidies were taken out of the equation, the average income from farming operations equated to a loss of £17,000 in 2014 – but income from other area such as contracting, hosting mobile phone masts and provision for tourism and recreation were being used to fill the gap.

• A new pocket-sized Agricultural Facts and Figures card – which will be distributed free of charge at the Scottish Government’s pavilion at next week’s Royal Highland Show – was also revealed yesterday.