We are well underway preparing 2020 harvest gross margin accounts for our arable clients. A comparison of the 2020 harvest against the 2019 harvest, drawn from clients’ year-end accounts, is summarised below:
Taking a typical predominantly arable client’s figures:
- The 2020 harvest across all farms showed significantly lower yields for barley, wheat, and oilseed rape as expected. This was due to difficult winter crop establishment along with significant acreages of spring crops being drilled.
- We have again seen a drop in oilseed rape plantings due to problems with disease and pest control. Our top 20% farmers’ yields are down but not as much as our “all farms” average.
- Farmers who managed to obtain the higher prices during the marketing year have seen an average wheat price increase by nearly 18%, this with lower spring input costs means the arable gross margin across all crops has dropped by £25 per acre from £360 to £335.
- It is easy to see the impact the weather has had on our farmers, for 2019 harvest 16% of the land area was planted with barley, the 2020 harvest shows this at 30% of the total cropped area.
- Oilseed rape areas planted dropped from 23% to 8%. Whether the recent £500 per tonne price for oilseed rape will reverse this trend remains to be seen.
- Barley yields and average price per tonne for 2020 harvest are very similar across the average and top performers but due to the increased barley area and lower barley gross margin, relative to wheat, this change has hugely affected our clients’ average farm gross output.
- Wheat outputs show an increase of £16 per acre to £640 per acre for our top performers, against a £10 per acre drop for all farms from £569 per acre to £559 per acre.
- Barley top performers show a drop of £83 per acre to £339 and a drop for our all farms from £379 to £326, a decrease of £53 per acre.
- Oilseed rape output has dropped from £420 per acre to £354 and our top 20% saw a drop of £40 per acre from £463 per acre.
- Another year of spring sowing has certainly reduced variable costs, nearly all of the £28 per acre reduction being down to reduced spray costs.
- Recent hikes in input costs are not going to help farmers with relation to the 2021 harvest, however, the recent warm weather will hopefully have boosted yields.
- Farmers are again looking at fixed costs and reducing these where possible, although it is difficult to see how any significant savings can be made.
- Machinery costs continue to rise and with a short supply of some kit, great deals are going to be hard to find. Maybe we will see an increase in the sharing of kits and resources in the coming years – time will tell.
- Whilst some of our farmers have passed on rental reductions to some of their commercial tenants we haven’t noticed a drop in any agricultural rents being paid by our farming clients.
- Capital repayment holidays have been taken up by a few clients due to Covid-19 but many haven’t benefitted from the Government’s help for the self-employed through the pandemic period. Far more have managed to obtain council grants and where applicable used the reduced rate of Output VAT for certain other income sources.
- We now know the impact on the support payments following the gradual removal of the Basic Payment subsidy regime over the coming years but less is known on the level of support farmers will receive when this is ended. Clearly, it will be significantly lower and our farmers are facing changes that will have a huge impact on how they farm in the future.
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