TOTAL Income From Farming (TIFF) is estimated to have increased by £245 million in 2017, after a modest increase in 2016.

The Chief Statistician in the Scottish Government yesterday published TIFF estimates for Scotland 2015-2017, which contains near final estimates of TIFF for 2016 and an initial estimate of 2017 TIFF. The figures show net income rose by five per cent in 2016 compared to the previous year, with initial estimates for 2017 suggesting a further increase of 36 per cent.

Agriculture was worth £672m to the Scottish economy in 2016, up from £639m in 2015, with improvements in potatoes and sheep farming offsetting the effect of the fall in the milk price.

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Although not all the data are yet in, TIFF for 2017 appears to have risen to about £917m, which, once inflation is taken into account, is the third highest since 2000. The dairy sector contributed most of the increase, with the average price of milk increasing 28 per cent to 28.2p per litre. A moderate increase in production resulted in the value of milk increasing £117m to £434m.

In the cereal sector, a ten per cent increase in the barley harvest, together with an improvement in prices, saw the value of barley increase £67m, or 36 per cent, to £253m. The value of wheat also rose on the back of good prices, to £128m.

Overall, livestock is estimated to have seen a small increase in value in 2017. The largest sector, the beef industry, again remained reasonably steady in 2017, with prices slightly above 2016 throughout the year. Output from slaughter or sales of cattle amounted to an estimated £716m in 2017.

The sheep sector saw a second year of price rises, with output worth £222m. Higher prices saw a 24 per cent rise in the value of pig meat, to £108m.

Total costs were estimated to have fallen slightly in 2016, but are expected to have increased about seven per cent in 2017. Feed costs fell £18m in 2016 to £521m, and may increase to an estimated £550m in 2017. The cost of fertiliser fell 18 per cent in 2016, but is estimated to have remained steady in 2017. Fuel costs fell nine per cent in 2016 but look like increasing about 17 per cent in 2017 to £126m. Labour costs, having remained fairly steady in 2016, look like increasing £34m in 2017.

Subsidies, including coupled support, amounted to £511m in 2016 and £554m in 2017. The 2017 figure, which for accounting purposes is based on the payment year irrespective of when payments are actually made, is made up of £425m in Pillar 1 support, a further £82m in Pillar 2 payments, and £47m in coupled support.