For dairy farms, average farm business income fell by 53 per cent
Figures released by the Welsh Government this week highlight the detrimental impact that low commodity prices have had across all key farming sectors in Wales.
According to the figures based on the results of the Wales Farm Business Survey for 2015-16 (up to March 2016), average farm business income across ‘All Farm Types’ fell by £6,800 to £22,200, a decrease of around 23 per cent, and the third consecutive year incomes have fallen.
For dairy farms, average farm business income fell by a massive 53 per cent, with lowland cattle and sheep farms falling by 40 per cent and for Less Favoured Area cattle and sheep farms down by 1 per cent.
"Unfortunately, these figures come as no surprise to farmers," said NFU Cymru president, Stephen James.
"The fall in farmgate prices -- in particular for milk and lamb over the reporting period -- has resulted in this dramatic fall in farm incomes and puts pressure not just on farming businesses but also on rural businesses and the rural economy that rely on farmers for much of their income.
"The impact on farming families is even more starkly highlighted by the net farm income figures for 2015-2016 -- the return to the farming family for their labour after costs such as rent, depreciation and interest payments. This income fell by around 37 per cent to £11,000.
"I commend the Welsh Government for its excellent delivery of nearly 90 per cent of BPS payments on the opening day of the payment window this December.
"However, the remaining payments must be made without undue delay, including payments to cross-border farmers. This support is crucial to help them through the current difficulties.
"Regulation is a cost to all businesses and the figures show that the industry is not in a position to take on more costs,” added Mr James.
"I urge the Welsh Government to consider the impact the introduction of new NVZs and additional TB cattle controls will have on an industry that cannot afford to pick up the bill associated with additional regulation.
"We also need improved returns from the market place and the figures also further emphasize the need for favourable government policies post-Brexit.
"They must be focused on developing policies that underpin food production and securing funding arrangements that ensure we remain competitive in UK and EU markets."