Farming takes centre stage but plenty of drama is unfolding in the background

In Northern Ireland, farming always takes centre stage during May, when all of the sector’s actors come together for the biggest show in town. Balmoral provides the opportunity to reflect on the performance of the industry since the last show and to look forward to the seasons ahead.

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The squeeze is on… but not for farmers

When we look at a range of economic information, the squeeze has clearly been on. In 2017, consumers’ disposable incomes were eroded as inflation outpaced wage growth. The public finances also continued to come under pressure as demand for services rises at a faster rate than our ability to pay for them. Similarly, businesses have faced increasing cost pressures – and some more are actually coming into effect this month – which they haven’t been able to pass on fully to their customers, with profit margins therefore impacted. But as ever, farmers appear to be bucking this trend.

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Farming exchanges bad times for good, but what lies ahead?

tractor-1815232_1280.jpgLast year was a year of many surprises – Brexit, Trump, Leicester winning the English Premier League, and Ireland beating the All-Blacks in rugby are just some examples that come to mind. The Northern Ireland economy also enjoyed an unexpectedly positive year in 2016, with many record-breaking performances, including in the labour market. But the turnaround in the fortunes of the agriculture sector is perhaps even more startling. Continue reading

Chart of the Month – TIFF in a trough?

In recent years, Northern Ireland’s agriculture sector had been outperforming all other sectors. After the Credit Crunch, whilst other sectors of the economy such as construction and manufacturing were struggling badly, the agri-food sector was in rude health, benefiting from favourable exchange rates as well as strong global demand. However over the last year, agriculture has been enduring a torrid time; indeed the most challenging conditions of all sectors. Total Income from Farming (TIFF) for instance is down 42 percent year on year and is now at its lowest level since 2006. Furthermore, TIFF is now almost 20 percent below the average of the last twenty years after accounting for inflation. Last year’s fall represented the steepest drop in farming incomes since the BSE crisis in 1998 (-56%).TIFF