Farm business income predicted to drop by 46%, says UFU

Tyrone countryside. Picture: Cliff Donaldson

The Ulster Farmers’ Union says the income for farm businesses across all commodities in Northern Ireland is expected to decrease by 46% this year, as reported by DAERA. The provisional figures show farm income in NI almost halved from £609 million in 2022 to £341 million in 2023, with dairy and cereals experiencing the most significant decrease.

UFU president William Irvine said, “It doesn’t come as a surprise that DAERA’s figures show that farmers could be facing the possibility of their farm income being almost half of what it was in 2023. That speaks volumes about the financial pressure farmers are under.

“Last year was challenging from the get go for NI farmers. From bad weather to falling farmgate prices and feedstuff costs rising by 5%, local farmers were getting it financially from every angle and that has not changed in the first half of 2024. Yet, dairy co-ops are making money with an 11% increase on profits from last year. It’s an absolute kick in the teeth.

“DAERA’s figures are testament to the volatility of agriculture, how farmers are at the mercy of elements that are out of their control and bigger businesses with plenty of leverage power. In other professions, no one would stand for this kind of reduction in their annual wages, yet that is what our farm families are now dealing with.

“It must also be recognised that Basic Payments make up £298 million of the total £341 million farm income figure for 2023, which is the lowest in years. This stresses how important the Basic Payment Scheme is, and in particular, a resilience payment to local farm families in NI. It would be detrimental to our farming industry and the entire NI agri-food industry to have every penny invested in environmental payments when farmers are struggling to keep their businesses afloat. They need appropriate support to be able to maintain a viable farm business that can manage financial challenges, so they can continue to care for the environment and produce the high-quality food consumers expect. It would also help to ensure a prosperous future for the next generation of farmers.”

To view the farm income figures, click here.