Commenting on Statistical Review of Northern Ireland Agriculture 2019, Charlie Kerlin, Head of Agri Food at leading business advisory firm Grant Thornton in Belfast, said:

“The statistical review for 2019 showed that farm incomes declined considerably over the year, by 25% to £290 million, continuing the trend of the previous 12 months.

“It meant that average farm income fell to £28,612 in 2018/2019 and is expected to decline yet further to 2019/2020 to less than £25,000. This was driven by downward pressure on prices from national and international markets.

“There were however some notable exceptions such as improved pig prices as African Swine Flu impacted supply in China.

“As a result, the value of output from the pig sector increased by 13% to £178m.

Charlie Kerlin

“With a workforce that numbers around 49,400 it is clear the agri-industry represents a hugely important economic sector for Northern Ireland.

“This will become increasingly the case through the course of the COVID-19 pandemic as the need for continued supply of local high-quality food and drink becomes more prevalent.

“Supermarkets are reporting record sales for March, outstripping the Christmas period, and we expect the agricultural industry to experience increased revenue as a result.

“We are working with companies across the sector as they put in place the necessary arrangements to ensure they can sustain the supply chain while also safeguarding the health and wellbeing of their employees.”