Northern Ireland

Farming profit: Dairy slump contributes to drop in prices

A herd of dairy cows
Image caption The fall in profits was driven by a big fall in prices for the dairy sector

The Northern Ireland farming industry saw its profit fall by 42% to £183m last year, driven by a big fall in prices for the dairy sector.

The figure is worked out by assessing the value of agricultural output and subsidies and subtracting the cost of production and finance.

The profit was less than the total value of subsidies, which were £236m.

Total turnover fell 9% to £1.74bn while input costs were down by 4% to £1.39bn.

The output value of the dairy sector was down by 27% to £480m, reflecting persistently low milk prices.

The output value of cattle was marginally higher at £394m.

Farm profits

While the number of animals slaughtered fell by 2%, this was more than offset by a 9kg increase in the average carcase weight.

Output values for sheep meat, pork and poultry were all down due to lower farm-gate prices.

The only bright spots were in the increased output values of eggs, mushrooms and flowers

The Department for Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) has forecast that at the individual farm level profits are likely to be down by 46% in 2015/16.

The average farm profit was £24,942 in 2014/15 and is expected to drop to an average of £13,451 in 2015/16.

A spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture and Rural Affairs said: "Without subsidies in 2015 market receipts would not have covered all costs (including consumption of fixed capital and depreciation costs).

"This also occurred in 2012 and previous years in the past."

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