Productivity improving on UK farms

Recent figures from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) suggests that productivity on UK farms improved significantly last year on 2016 levels.

The figures, in the report Total factor productivity of the UK agriculture industry, show that productivity was up by 2.9 per cent and it was mainly driven by an increase in overall levels of production.

Total factor productivity is a measure of how well inputs are converted into outputs. Moreover, it gives an indication of the efficiency and competitiveness of the industry and is a key indicator of the long-term performance of the agricultural industry.

According to Defra’s report, the volume of all outputs increased by 3.6 per cent on 2016, mainly driven by a 7.3 per cent increase for all crops. The rise was also boosted by a 0.5 per cent increase for livestock meat outputs and a four per cent increase for livestock product outputs. In comparison, the volume of all inputs only increased by 0.7 per cent.

However, the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) has suggested that, while farmers in the UK are amongst the best in the world, productivity is lagging behind major competitors.

As part of its latest study, the organisation claims that the USA and Netherlands are outperforming the UK on agricultural productivity by as much as three times, and the organisation has called on farmers and the Government to work together to close this gap.

As a spokesman for the AHDB commented, low productivity growth reduces the UK agricultural industry’s long-term ability to compete, grow new markets and improve its natural capital.