A significant drop in commodity prices across the board played a major role in causing a fall in the overall profitability of the farming sector in 2014, the NFU has said.
Total Income from Farming (TIFF) data released by Defra shows that, in real terms, the headline figures for 2014 fell by 4.4% to £5.4bn.
However, farming’s contribution to the UK economy, in terms of its Gross Value Added (GVA), has risen once again to reach almost £10bn, illustrating both the importance of farming to the economy and the resilience of the sector during times of uncertainty and volatility.
NFU president Meurig Raymond said: “These figures underline the impact of falling commodity prices.
“We have seen a roller-coaster ride in terms price falls across the various farming sectors over the past year and this trend has continued into 2015.
“For example, dairy and pig prices are currently almost 20% below compared with the same period last year and lamb values are also under pressure.
“The stronger pound has also exerted downward pressure on the sector’s profitability in 2014 and continues to be a critical factor in determining commodity prices.”
The NFU has likewise stressed that, with just a week to go before the General Election, it is vital that, no matter which party ends up at Number 10, the next Government must ensure that it has the right policies in place to help the industry invest and grow for the long term.
This week, it is making a final effort to promote its top 10 manifesto asks, particularly through its social media channels.
These include calls for an accelerated roll-out of high-speed broadband to all rural areas; for a Government that champions farming in EU policy, leading with a review of CAP greening; and for the implementation of all elements of the 25-year TB Eradication Strategy.
Mr Raymond said: “UK farming’s contribution to the wider economy has increased by 34%. With the right conditions, British farmers can continue this impressive long-term performance.
“We want the next Government to create the right environment to encourage investment, growth and innovation, therefore securing the future of the country’s food and farming industry. The NFU’s farming manifesto highlights the key policy recommendations that the industry, along with Government can address to deliver this continued growth.”
The NFU represents the interests of around 55,000 members across England and Wales.
To pledge support for British farming in the run-up to the election, visit www.votebritishfood.com, or engage with the organisation on Facebook and Twitter at the handle, @NFUtweets.