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Dobson warns about impact of falling farm incomes

Ulster Unionist Agriculture spokesperson Jo-Anne Dobson MLA has welcomed the publication of statistics which reveal that the total income from farming increased by 31% between 2012 and 2013 with farm businesses seeing their individual incomes rising by an average 60%.

The Upper Bann MLA said;

“Farming is a difficult livelihood with fluctuating markets and often spiralling costs. The industry has endured a number of incredibly difficult years with food, fuel and fertiliser costs all rising sharply and these difficult financial conditions were only compounded with awful weather conditions. With some of the wettest periods and heaviest snowfalls for many years the confident market and good weather during the latter half of 2013 came as a blessing for our embattled farming community.

"The financial revival that the sector has experienced over the year is a testament to the skill and proficiency of all our farmers.  It is a credit to the industry that the ‘total income from farming’, or TIFF, increased from £223 million in 2012 to £298 million in 2013. I especially welcome the fact that income measured across all farm types is expected to increase from £19,336 in 2012/13 to £30,976 in 2013/14, an increase of £11,640 or 60% per farm. However this increase unfortunately masks a 17% decline in incomes from cereal farms which was mainly the result of lower grain prices.

"Whilst these figures suggest a good year for our farmers we must remember that there are a number of risks facing the industry in coming years. With every reform of the Common Agricultural Policy comes the risk that support for the sector will decline. It is therefore imperative in my opinion, that the Northern Ireland Executive now recognises that investment is needed in order to assist our agri-food industry truly meet its full potential. It should start with our DARD and DETI Ministers doing a lot more than just issuing their usual bland or weak statements on the matter.”

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