"Upland cattle and sheep farms recorded a decrease in the value of outputs of almost 1 per cent between 2009-2010 and 2010-2011, while inputs rose by 7 per cent – resulting in an income decrease of 18 per cent.
"The value of outputs on lowland cattle and sheep farms in the identical sample rose by 3 per cent, while inputs increased by just over 12 per cent, leading to a similar 18 per cent fall back."
After a difficult decade including the Foot and Mouth disaster and continued government dithering over tackling Bovine TB, and now with such a considerable reduction in farm profitability due to the rising outgoing costs of feed and fertiliser, there is little wonder that additional income from the currently massively over-generous Feed In Tarifs are becoming so attractive.
The pressure on farmers is unlikely to ease up anytime soon. The Eurozone crisis adds huge amounts of uncertainty as both livestock prices and CAP payments are very sensitive to the Sterling-Euro exchange rate. CAP reform will see income support payments reduced whilst also requiring farmers to be be "greener", meaning they will need to protect "habitat" and take land out of production further squeezing income. Furthermore farmers in Less Favoured Areas (LFAs; roughly half of Ynys Môn is classified as LFA) will no longer receive higher levels of support. The list goes on and on.
Accordingly, with all this going on and its controversial side-effects on our landscape, it is both ironic and inexplicable that the Welsh Government decided to do away with a Rural Affairs Minister at cabinet level and downgrade and split its rural affairs department.
For those interested, the relevant sections comparing upland and lowland farm incomes over the past twelve months are below. Farm Survey