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This topic covers a variety of farming issues, including the environmental impacts of farming, organic farming, animal health and welfare and diversification activities out of farming.

Publications

Campaign for the Farmed Environment
Department: Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
The Campaign for the Farmed Environment encourages farmers and land managers to voluntarily adopt important land management practices that will benefit the environment. Within the 2010/11 Farm Business Survey a subset of farmers were asked various questions on their understanding and attitudes towards the Campaign. The results presented in this statistical notice cover these farmers’ understanding and attitudes for the 2010/11 crop year.
Farming Facts and Figures for Wales
Department: Welsh Government
Presents summary information on agriculture in Wales, including livestock, labour and economic data.
Incidence of TB in Cattle, Great Britain
Department: Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Latest national statistics bringing together various sources of statistics relating to the incidence of TB in Cattle, Great Britain according to arrangements approved by the UK Statistics Authority.
Total Income From Farming
Department: Scottish Government
Total Income from Farming in Scotland, covering in detail the costs and revenues of all aspects of Scottish farming.

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Overview

Data on farming issues are derived from a number of data sources.

The annual Farm Practices Survey collects information on a diverse range of topics used to monitor the impact of farming practices on the environment.

Data on organic farming are available annually on the areas of fully organic land, land in-conversion to organic and the number of organic livestock and livestock producers. The numbers of producers and processors or importers registered with the Organic Certification Bodies are also available.

Data on the incidences of Tuberculosis (TB) in cattle are published monthly, derived from data used for the administration of TB testing.

Data on the levels of diversification out of farming is collected through a variety of sources and these are compiled together into a central release, so the statistics are easier to compare. Data are available from the following sources:

  • Farm Business Survey (FBS)

  • UK Farm Structure Survey results, and 

  • Inland Revenue data from the Survey of Personal Incomes (SPI)

Two sets of indicators have also been developed as part of the process of monitoring and evaluating the progress of the Sustainable Farming and Food Strategy and the Animal Health and Welfare Strategy in England.

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Technical Data

Farm Practices Survey

The survey is usually made up of two survey forms, each being sent to approximately 3,000 holdings. The sample is targeted by farm type and size, to ensure a representative sample across England. Results are published towards the end of July and a fuller report is published in January.

Thresholds are applied to ensure that very small holdings with little agricultural activity are not included in the survey. The survey is voluntary but the response rate is still around 50 per cent.

Many of the questions are changed each year as the responses are fairly stable over time.

Topics previously covered include:

  • slurry/manure storage and spreading

  • waste disposal

  • pesticide sprayers

  • water quality

  • animal health/bio security

More recent questions on animal transportation, castration of lambs, cattle housing periods, computer usage and regulatory burdens on farmers have also been added.

Organic farming

Data are collected throughout the year by the organic certification bodies, via on-farm inspections. These administrative data are then compiled annually by Defra into the statistical release. Validation checks are carried out on the data to ensure accuracy.

The inspections are carried out on a rolling basis so data for farms are collected at varying times of year. Therefore, results do not refer to a snapshot in time, so are affected by seasonal fluctuations in livestock numbers or may span two cropping years. Results give a good indication of the levels of organic farming, compared to conventional farming. A dataset is published alongside the annual statistical release.

Incidence of Tuberculosis (TB) in cattle

These statistics are obtained from the Animal Health’s work management IT support system (Vetnet), used for the administration of TB testing. They are a snapshot of the position on the date on which they were extracted. The data are subject to revision until all test results are available. A dataset is published alongside the monthly Statistical Release.

Diversification

The main sources of information on diversification are:

  • Farm Business Survey (FBS) 

  • Survey of Personal Incomes (SPI), conducted by HMRC 

  • June Survey of Agriculture and Horticulture (formerly the June Census) 1998 to 2003 

  • Survey of Labour, Machinery and Diversification on Agricultural and Horticultural Holdings (which forms part of the EU Farm Structure Survey)

  • Farm Diversification Benchmarking Study 2002, commissioned by Defra from the University of Exeter 

  • The effects of public funding on farmers' attitudes to farm diversification, Exeter 2006

  • The effects of Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform on Tenant Farmers Diversification activities - Baseline Study University of Coventry 2006 (published by Defra as Farm Diversification)

Comparisons between the various sources can prove difficult due to different definitions, samples and methodologies being used and each source has its own strengths and weaknesses. Summary information for a selection of these sources including their strengths and weaknesses is given in the full publication.

Indicators on the Sustainable Farming and Food/Animal Health and Welfare strategy

Data sources for these indicators are carefully chosen to ensure they are fit for purpose. Where available, established data sources are used based on published figures that meet the criteria for the National Statistics quality marker.

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Glossary

  • Bio security

    Management of the risks to animal, plant and human health posed by pests and diseases.

  • CAP

    Common Agricultural Policy - The European Commission’s overall policy on food production.

  • Cropping year

    The year that runs from planting to harvest. Varies depending on the crop being grown.

  • Diversification

    Diversification is the entrepreneurial use of farm resources for a non-agricultural purpose for commercial gain.

  • Organic Certification Bodies

    The bodies that are entitled to approve farmers production as organic.

  • Organic farming

    The main components of an organic farming system are the avoidance of artificial fertilisers and pesticides and the use of crop rotations and other forms of husbandry to maintain soil fertility and control weeds, pests and diseases.

  • Sustainable farming and food strategy

    Sets out how industry, the Government and consumers can work together to secure a sustainable future for our farming and food industries, as viable industries contributing to a better environment and healthy and prosperous communities.

  • Tuberculosis

    An infectious, notifiable disease that primarily affects cattle and pigs.

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Contact Details

For statistical enquiries about this topic, please contact:

Helen Hoult

Email: helen.hoult@defra.gsi.gov.uk

Telephone: +44 (0) 1904 455327

Zone A2, 3rd Floor Kings Pool 1-2 Peasholme Green York YO1 7PX

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