Defra figures show total income from farming rose by 1.5pc in 2016

A farmer ploughing a field in Norfolk. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

A farmer ploughing a field in Norfolk. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

Average farming incomes stabilised in 2016, rising by 1.5pc according to new government figures.

Defra's latest estimate for last year's total income from farming (TIFF) is £3,963m, a rise of £59m from the 2015 total, following a sharp downturn from the previous year.

The report says the weakening of the pound against the Euro drove an 18pc increase in the value of subsidy payments under the Basic Payment Scheme, which are set in Euros and converted to sterling each year using the exchange rate set by the European Central Bank every September.

But the value of all agricultural outputs fell by 3.4pc to £23,548m. The report says: 'Overall cereal production was down, with the exception of oats, driven by a return to more typical yields following the record yields of 2015 and, despite market prices strengthening in the latter part of the year, cereal prices for the year as a whole were lower. Similarly, milk production and price was lower in 2016.'

Meurig Raymond, president of the National Farmers' Union (NFU), said: 'Although the overall profitability has recovered to certain degree, we are still far from seeing levels which will sustain a long-term and profitable farming industry. They also highlight that we are living in volatile times, where the economic outlook can change on a daily basis.

'With the General Election coming up very soon and as we head towards Brexit, it is crucial that political parties set out clear policies that work for farm businesses so we can ensure there is a profitable, productive and progressive agriculture and horticulture in the future.'