Farmer incomes to ‘halve’ in price slump

Bales EMN-141208-134508001
Bales EMN-141208-134508001

Farming incomes across the county look set to halve as producer prices slump by a quarter on global markets.

The Country Landowners Association (CLA) says nationally rural economies were enjoying strong growth, something contradicted by their local spokespeople and the Lincolnshire National Farmers Union.

Market Rasen-based CLA Lincolnshire Branch Committee member, Andrew Inglis, a partner at Lincoln-based chartered surveyor Jas. Martin & Co, reports “favourable harvesting conditions” but warns :”The main concerns relate to lower commodity prices and the ongoing problems with blackgrass, both of which will have an adverse impact on profits and therefore investment.”

Mr Inglis also reported no improvement in employment opportunities within Rasen’s agricultural businesses, but said the more sand and gravel produced by some local quarries suggested higher investment in infrastructure and development.

CLA Lincolnshire Branch Committee-Chairman, Frances Dymoke of Scrivenby Grange, says there are jobs in the construction industry as well as seasonal farm work, but they are low paid.

“This year’s crops, while perfectly good, are worth 25 per cent less than last year, therefore profits will be slashed. Harvest quantity and quality are looking fair to middling, but this is dampened by the massive drop in prices.

“Income this year is expected to halve, however this will have little effect on investment as interest rates are still low- and one poor year is expected every so often,” he said.

Caistor area arable and livestock farmer Johnathan Brant says it is too soon to assess this year’s harvest. “The only thing that we do know is that prices have collapsed,” he said.

However, Lincolnshire NFU says farmer confidence has risen in recent years, with agriculture one of the few industries to have grown during the recession. Output has grown from £16 billion in 2007 to £14billion in 2012.

“More immediately, harvest is underway and although crops are doing nicely, overall, there is some variability in quality and yield, mainly due to the mild and wet conditions we’ve had this winter spring,” said a Lincolnshire NFU spokeswoman.

“The main issue though is that rising output and drastically falling prices for crops at the farm gate (at a 4-year low for cereals),have seen most farmers producing at or near the cost of production. We’re now ruled by world market conditions, rather than just what happens just in GB or even the EU,” she said.