The UK agricultural market grew at a constant rate of more than 5% per annum over the past six years, to reach a value of approximately £38 billion by the end of 2012.
The market remained resistant to the general economic climate as the universal nature of agricultural commodities and soaring global prices inflated market value.
Farmers are responsible for managing around 75% of the UK's surface area and for maintaining many features that are inherrently perceived as "countryside".
Whether they be, hedges, ditches, meadows or copses, all have resulted from centuries of farming activity and today they are closely integrated into farming practice. The climate and topography of the UK lends itself to two distinct types of farming.
Pastoral farming (the use of grass pasture for livestock rearing) is found in areas of higher rainfall and among the hills, predominantly to the north and west of the UK. Arable farming (land that can be ploughed to grow crops) is concentrated in the south and east of the UK where the climate is drier and soils are deeper.
In the UK there are three main approaches adopted by farmers in their farming system. These are defined as organic, conventional and integrated. Organic farming represents around 4% of the farmed area and is based upon the concept of sustainability utilising the farm's own resources.
Conventional farming adopts modern technology and utilises other inputs such as pesticides and artificial fertilisers while integrated farming makes the conventional approach sustainable. Most conventional farmers practice integrated farming.
The UK agricultural market is fragmented, with micro-sized companies constituting 97% of total enterprises from a total of 147,000 firms. In 2012 the average income of a company operating in the industry was £186,000, up by around 26% since 2006.
The performance of local companies is highly influenced by subsidy policies in the country. By far the most subsidised companies in the UK, as well as all over the EU, are farms operating in production of milk and sugar.
For more information on the UK agricultural market, see the latest research: UK Agricultural Market
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