FIGURES published yesterday by Scotland's chief statistician reveal that incomes from commercial farms in Scotland in the 2016 crop year recovered to 2014 levels.

Average farm business income rose by around £12,800 (up 94 per cent) on the previous year to £26,400, regaining some of the decline since 2011. Farm income had decreased 46 per cent (£22,900) in real terms up until last year.

The findings are based on annual audits of nearly 500 commercial farms in Scotland, and focuses on the 2016 crop year. Using the farm accounts, the survey collects a range of data on the financial health of the farm.

The survey only collects data on farms that are eligible for subsidies and does not include data from small farms or sectors such as pig and poultry farming which do not get additional funding.

Other findings from the analysis shows that farms spent less on raw materials and other inputs in 2016-17, such as cattle feed and labour costs, compared to the previous year. In contrast, outputs such as revenue from livestock and crops, improved across all farm types.

The reduced inputs and improved outputs combined with a 5 per cent rise in grants and subsidy payments from the EU, due to favourable exchange rate, led to an increase in the profitability of Scottish agriculture.

Farmers that have diversified into enterprises such as renting out holiday homes or building small wind farms to generate electricity, did better than those farms that haven't. Diversified farm incomes were around £17,400 higher than those that have focussed on normal farming activity.

Across all farms in the survey there has been an average increase in the farming revenue. General cropping farms had the highest average income for 2016-17 at £47,100, up around £15,700 from the previous year.

Nevertheless, incomes from 45 per cent of farm businesses in the survey wouldn't have been enough to meet the legal minimum agricultural wage for unpaid labour, which includes farmers, spouses and business partners.

Market round-up

C&D Auction Marts sold eight prime heifers in Dumfries to a top of 230p per kg and an average of 188.4p, while 12 prime bullocks peaked at 212p and levelled at 182.7p. Four prime bulls sold to 164p and averaged 148p.

In the rough ring 27 beef cows averaged 133.2p and 62 dairy cows levelled at 119p.

The firm also sold 540 prime hoggs to a top of £113 per head and 243p per kg to average 226p (+10p on the week).

There were also 399 cast sheep forward when heavy ewes averaged £85 and light/export-type ewes levelled at £61.