Fall in farming incomes 'no surprise', NFU Cymru says

Cattle Image copyright Reuters
Image caption This is the third consecutive year that farm incomes have fallen

A fall in farming incomes has come as "no surprise" to farmers, NFU Cymru has said.

Figures released by the Welsh Government for 2015-16 show the average farm business income across all farm types fell by £6,800 to £22,200 - a decline of about 23%.

NFU Cymru president Stephen James said farmers need "improved returns" from the market place.

He also emphasised the need to "remain competitive" in UK and EU markets.

Dairy farms suffered the biggest blow, with the average income falling by 53%.

Lowland and sheep farms were down by 40%, while less favoured area (LFA) cattle and sheep farms - land with natural handicaps like lack of water or short crop seasons - were down by 1%.

Net farm income - the return to the farming family for their labour after costs such as rent, depreciation and interest payments - also fell by about 37% to £11,000.

Image caption Mr James remains positive about the industry, saying it can be "productive, progressive and profitable" in Wales

Mr James, a dairy farmer in Pembrokeshire, said: "Unfortunately, these figures come as no surprise to farmers.

"The fall in farm gate prices - in particular for milk and lamb over the reporting period - has resulted in this dramatic fall in farm incomes."

He said the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) payments are "as important as ever" in helping to compensate farmers for market failure.

The Welsh Government was commended for delivering almost 90% of BPS payments on the opening day of the payment window in December, but was called to make the remaining payments "without undue delay".

These are described as a safety net for farmers, with support given to those who produce agricultural products the public want.

Mr James also emphasised the need for "favourable government policies post-Brexit".

"All our efforts must be focused on developing policies that underpin food production in Wales and also on securing funding arrangements that ensure we remain competitive in UK and EU markets," he said.

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