Scotland's Chief Statistician today published results from the 2012 December Agricultural Survey, covering winter sown crops, hay and silage production, livestock and machinery.
This Statistical Publication provides commentary and graphics on the latest data and trends over the past ten years.
Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said: "The weather in 2012 was challenging for farmers in many parts of Scotland and that is clearly reflected in today’s figures which show a decline in winter crop plantings.
"The weather has also had an impact on the livestock sector and the increased lamb numbers reflects that lambs took longer to fatten in last year’s conditions. However, the underlying increase in the breeding flock is welcome.
"While pig numbers are down, in part due to the Vion closure, market prospects remain bright for beef cattle though we clearly need adequate levels of coupled payments in the future CAP as producers are facing rising input costs.
"The number of dairy cattle is also down but average milk yields are continuing to increase as we now have a more productive and specialist dairy herd that is better placed to achieve economies of scale and deliver business efficiencies.
Since 2002, average milk yields have increased by around 15 per cent, whilst the dairy herd has reduced in size by 10 per cent over the same period.
"We live in a more volatile world, whether it be the weather, input costs or market returns, so we will continue to work with our farmers and stakeholders to ensure they are as prepared as possible for what challenges the future brings."
Comparisons between 2011 and 2012 December Survey results show:
An overall decrease in winter crop areas of 9,800 hectares (a decrease of five per cent, to 180,000 hectares). The poor weather at the end of 2012 is likely to have affected winter sowing
Within this there was a drop in areas of wheat (down 15 per cent to 84,000 ha – the lowest area of winter-planted wheat reported in the last 10 years) and oilseed rape (down two per cent to 35,000 ha)
There were increases in reported areas of oats planted (up five per cent to 6,700 ha) and barley (up ten per cent to 53,900 ha, the highest reported area of winter-planted barley since 2007)
The bad weather in 2012 has impacted production; annual production of grass silage/haylage fell by three per cent, to 6.4 million tonnes, the lowest figure since 2008. Hay production fell by 31 per cent to 180,000 ha; the lowest quantity produced on record
Arable silage production fell by six per cent, to 299,000 tonnes, the lowest since 2000
The number of cattle decreased by 8,400 (0.5 per cent) to 1.72 million. Beef cows dropped by 0.9 per cent (down just under 4,000 head to 456,000) and dairy cows by 0.3 per cent (down less than 1,000 head). Dairy cow numbers are now the lowest on record
The number of sheep in December increased for the first time since 2004, by 198,300 (four per cent) to 4.66 million. This is primarily due to an increase in the number of lambs that are still available for meat production, due to a reduction in the number of sheep slaughtered in 2012
The number of pigs decreased by 47,000 (13 per cent) to 321,100. This is following a seven per cent decrease reported in the 2012 June Census, due to the on-going effects of the closure of Hall’s processing plant
The number of poultry increased by 0.84 million (six per cent) to 14.8 million birds, broadly in line with previous years’ figures.
The results of the December Survey are representative of main agricultural holdings only and do not cover minor agricultural holdings. The implications of this are covered in the commentary of this publication.
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Source: Argentine Beef Packers S.A.
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