• Income from farming in 2015 was lowest since 2007, Defra says
  • Unfavorable exchange rate led to reduced EU subsidy payments

U.K. farm income tumbled by 29 percent last year as the country’s growers were hit by falling crop prices and lower subsidy payments, the government said.

Total income dropped to 3.77 billion pounds ($5.5 billion) in 2015, the lowest in eight years, according to a report from the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs. It was the steepest drop since 2000. Farmers suffered from lower prices for grain, meat and dairy products while an unfavorable exchange rate reduced subsidy payments from the European Union.

Bumper harvests around the world in the past two seasons have boosted global grain stockpiles to the highest in decades, eroding crop prices for farmers and eating into profits for agricultural companies including Deere & Co. and Monsanto Co. In Britain, more than half of farmers’ income comes from the EU.

Many in the U.K. “are essentially surviving on direct payments” they receive from the bloc, agricultural economist Allan Buckwell said in an interview earlier this month. The country will vote in June on whether to remain a member of the EU, raising questions about where future farm support may come from.

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