AVERAGE farm profitability could drop from £38,000 to £15,000 a year in the worst case scenario as a result of policy and performance challenges that come from Brexit, modelling work has revealed.

AHDB's (Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board) latest Horizon report, "Brexit scenarios: an impact assessment", for the first time quantifies the potential impact of Brexit on UK farming businesses.

It maps out a range of possible post-Brexit situations and models their effect on Farm Business Income (FBI) across agriculture and horticulture's levy-paying sectors.

It analyses how farm incomes will be impacted by changes to the labour force, agricultural policy, regulation and the potential shape of future trade. It also illustrates the potentially severe impact on the bottom line for some farming sectors.

While results differ on a sector-by-sector basis, the top 25 per cent of businesses, regardless of sector, remained profitable under every scenario.

AHDB says farmers have the chance now to learn from the high-performing group and to use them as a benchmark for what is achievable in the way they run their own business.

Phil Bicknell, AHDB market intelligence director, said: "This analysis underlines the fact that performance matters. As individual farms, we know that we can't determine policy but we can recognise that performance is key to preparing for the challenges ahead."

Meanwhile, First Milk published its annual results yesterday for the year ending 31 March 2017, which show solid trading performance from a transformed business, delivering a net profit for the period of £6m (2016: loss £5.1m). Total group capital and reserves increased to £22m from £17.4m last year.

George Jamieson, NFU Scotland milk policy manager, commented: "NFUS would like to acknowledge the huge sacrifices made by First Milk members, without which the recovery could not have been delivered. The low prices First Milk members received over the recent difficult market conditions were amplified by the very poor financial position the co-op was in."

Market round-up

Lawrie & Symington Ltd held their second show and sale of suckled calves in Lanark on Tuesday when 456 heifers sold to 404.9p per kg and averaged 230.3p (-8.4p on the year), while 468 bullocks peaked at 438.6p and levelled at 236.4p (-3.4p).

Wallets Marts sold 1316 prime lambs in Castle Douglas on Tuesday to a top of £113 per head and 268.4p per kg to average £77.06 and 173p (+4p on the week).

A nice show of cast sheep saw 189 heavy ewes average £57.23, while 310 light/export type ewes levelled at £30.36.