An increase in the costs associated with farming has led to a £57 million reduction in profit gained by the agriculture industry in Scotland, official statistics suggest.
Figures published by the Scottish Government indicate that total income from farming was estimated to have fallen in 2018 to £672 million – an 8% decrease on the £729 million in the previous year.
Projections from the UK Government suggest that in the UK as a whole, total income from farming (TIFF) may have fallen by around 15% over the same period.
The fall has been partly attributed to an increase in the price of feed for animals – estimated to have risen by £74 million.
The estimates also suggest that labour costs increased by £26 million to £441 million while fuel costs increased by £18 million to £147 million.
There was, however, some significant increases in the value of barley and milk for farmers.
Barley output was estimated to have risen by £58 million to £312 million in 2018 while increased production and a small increase in price resulted in milk output being worth £402 million – up by £29 million from 2017.
Despite the rises, as well as a small increase in the value of livestock in 2018, the report highlighted farming’s continued dependence on support payments.
The figures indicated that farm subsidies, part of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy, accounted for 82% of profit from farming.
Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said: “As the cornerstone of the rural economy, it is vital that agriculture continues to perform well.
“These figures show the varying financial success from sector to sector, which we can see is down to increased cost of feed and fluctuations in product prices.
“With 82% of farm income dependent upon support payments from the EU, it is clear from the balance sheets that this continues to be very much the case.
“Given the significant role of these payments, it is vital that the UK Government take immediate steps to exclude the possibility of a ‘no deal’ outcome which would have a substantial damaging effect on our rural economy and businesses.”
Scottish Liberal Democrat rural economy spokesman Mike Rumbles said: “Instead of supporting and nurturing agricultural industries, our governments in both Edinburgh and London have created a hostile environment for farm businesses in Scotland.
“Bad weather and increasing overheads may be beyond the control of ministers but three years of incompetent handing and delays to rural support payments by the Scottish Government and chaos in Westminster over Brexit has only made matters worse.
“Uncertainty about the future is stifling growth in our rural economy and harming rural communities. The SNP and Tories are completely distracted but these damaging figures need to be a wake-up call for ministers about the serious issues facing our rural industries.”