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Northern Ireland farmers saw earnings soar 82% to £473m last year


Ulster Farmers Union president Barclay Bell

Ulster Farmers Union president Barclay Bell

Ulster Farmers Union president Barclay Bell

Farmers in Northern Ireland earned a total of £473m last year - a massive 82% surge from £253m in 2016, an official report has found.

The increase has been linked to higher prices for milk and pigs.

The annual average farmgate milk price rose by 42% in 2017 to 28.7 pence per litre while the volume of raw milk produced in Northern Ireland increased by 4% to 2.3 billion litres.

According to the report from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), there was a widescale increase in profits across many sectors of the farming industry.

However, Ulster Farmers Union president Barclay Bell said: "Farmers continue to face tough times across many enterprises. There would have been a big uplift last year in dairy farmers' incomes coming off the back of two very difficult years.

"There are a few contributing factors including the sterling and euro exchange rate, which led to better commodity prices. That also led to an uplift in our capped payments.

"Upwards of 60% of farming incomes is from EU direct support, which suggests the market place isn't delivering and the return isn't coming back.

"Farm incomes are very volatile, so these percentages don't always give the full picture."