Shropshire's farming income falls to lowest level in 10 years

Income from farming in Shropshire fell to a record low last year, figures show.

The National Farmers' Union said 2020 was a challenging year for the industry, with farms across England losing over £1 billion in revenue.

Poor weather combined with pandemic and Brexit-related issues all impacted on the farming economy and increased hardship for many small farmers.

Figures from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs show the total income from farming in Shropshire was estimated to be about £75.6 million in 2020.

This was a real-terms fall of 28 per cent from 2019, when income was £105.2 million, and the lowest figure since comparable records began in 2010.

Meanwhile, farming in Telford and Wrekin was estimated to be about £28.8 million in 2020. This was a fall of one per cent from 2019, when income was £29.2 million.

In the West Midlands, farming income decreased by 22 per cent to £336.4 million last year, making it the eighth-most affected of the seven English regions.

Across England, total income within the agriculture industry fell to £2.6 billion in 2020 – a drop of £1.1 billion when adjusted for inflation.

The NFU said the figures show the "significant disruption" caused by Covid-19.

Oliver Cartwright, NFU West Midlands communications adviser, added: "Many farms lost their entire market overnight, particularly those who supplied the out of home market at home or abroad, and saw prices fall due to lower demand.

"Many farm businesses who had diversified, for example by owning a B&B or hosting other leisure activities, found those closed due to restrictions. This disruption, alongside rising input costs and ongoing labour challenges, made 2020 a significantly challenging year and highlights the volatility farmers face year-on-year.

“With a new agricultural policy being introduced and farmers continuing to face financial pressure, it’s critical that the government ensures these are well designed and ensure a viable income stream. It’s clear from these figures that farms are continuing to face volatility, which is why the NFU is calling for reductions to direct payments to be postponed in 2022 and 2023 to provide more time to develop fit-for-purpose replacement schemes.”

Meanwhile, the value of crop output from farms across England fell to £7.6 billion in 2020 – the lowest level since 2007.

In Shropshire, it dropped from £199 million in 2019 to £172.2 million last year.

Meanwhile, the total output from livestock across the region also fell from £479.1 million to £469.8 million over this time.

In Telford and Wrekin, the value of crop output from farms dropped from £61.1 million in 2019 to £56.9 million last year.

The total output from livestock across the region rose from £49.5 million to £52.1 million.

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