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According to the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy’s (CIPFA) annual farm survey, council-held farms have continued to see a decline in the number of farms.
The total number of council-held farms has fallen from 2,532 in 2012/2013 to 2,504 in 2013/2014. This is part of a five year declining trend, with the total number of farms dropping by over 8% since 2009/2010.
The statistics also show a drop in estate management staff, the number of whom has fallen by over 8.5% since 2009-2010 to 84 professional and clerical employees.
Over the past year, average maintenance and repair costs have grown by 10% to just over £3,480 for Equipped farms and by 10% to £65.39 for every hectare in both Equipped and Bare Land farms held by the council.
The average rent per hectare has also risen in Equipped farms but reduced in Bare Land. In Equipped farms in 2013/2014 the figure was £275, this is nearly a 10% increase from £252 in 2011/2012. However, the average rent per hectare in Bare Land farms has decreased for the first time in five years from £212 in 2012/2013 to £200 in 2013/2014.
Commenting on the figures, CIPFA director of public affairs, Drew Cullen said:
“Data on the income and expenditure by local authorities on their farms showed that in England councils made a net surplus in 2013/2014 of £7.1m (including capital charges). It is likely that increases in rent, maintenance costs and a fall in the numbers of farms and staff, are why local authorities have just been able to make this marginal surplus from their farm holdings.”