Date lodged: 7 February 2019
To ask the Scottish Government what its position is on the decline in total farm income from £729 million in 2017 to £672 million in 2018.
Answered by: Fergus Ewing 26 February 2019
There is no doubt that the adverse weather conditions in 2018 had a significant effect on the industry which impacted on the Total Income from Farming (TIFF) figures. This is in part why increased feed costs (up £72 million) were a key factor on TIFF. The Scottish Government acted by establishing the Agricultural Weather Advisory Panel to address short term issues and build longer term resilience in the industry, along with a range of actions including support for fallen stock, funding for the Royal Scottish Agricultural Benevolent Institution, provision of additional advice and support for the industry campaign to encourage farmers and crofters to plan ahead and explore opportunities for co-operation and collaboration.
Some sectors did see growth with income from barley crops up £58 million, due to price increases and the milk sector saw a rise of £29 million, due to increased production.
However, subsidies accounted for 82 per cent of TIFF in 2018, illustrating the industry’s continued dependence on support payments. That is why the Scottish Government has already published its intentions, in the ‘Stability and Simplicity’ document, to continue support with minimal change in a five year transition period once the UK leaves the EU. This also demonstrates that it is crucial for the UK Government to guarantee future funding for the agriculture sector, including a fair allocation following the intra-UK review, and the repatriation of the outstanding £160m convergence monies.