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Livestock farming

Research guide

Published: 07 Mar 2019 Updated: 18 Oct 2023 Update History

Exclusive content
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Use our industry guide to find key background information, market research, import and export guidelines, statistics, legislation, trade bodies and trade publications.

The Business & Industry Guides series is produced by the Library & Information Service for ICAEW members and ACA students.

We can compile tailored key players reports, mailing lists, market reports, benchmarking reports and industry news. Our enquiry team can also research other industry-specific information, such as taxation, for you. Call us on +44 (0)20 7920 8620 or email library@icaew.com.

Trends and forecasts

Online articles

The library provides full access to articles from leading business, finance and management journals.

Access to articles is provided subject to suppliers’ terms of use.

Useful links

OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook
Annually updated report on major agricultural commodities, biofuels and fish produced by the OECD and Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations. Detailed analysis, interactive data and projections for each sector cover:

  • market situation
  • projection highlights
  • market trends and prospects
  • main issues and uncertainties.

The farmland market 2023
Article from Savills published in January 2023 on the British farmland market covering supply, demand and price forecasts.


Trade and policy: food, farming and agriculture
A collection of news and insights from the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) exploring how changes in domestic policy and trading relationships will affect farming businesses now that the UK has left the EU.

Assessing the impact of Agricultural Transition in Cornwall & the Isles of Scilly, Devon, Dorset and Somerset
Report undertaken by the Countryside and Community Research Institute, with support from the National Innovation Centre for Rural Enterprise, providing insights into the transition from the Basic Payment Scheme to the new Environmental Land Management schemes in the South West. Looks at the impact the transition is likely to have on the farming community, supply chain, jobs, producers, suppliers, business owners, workers, and the wider rural economy. Published in April 2022.

Environmental Land Management and the agricultural transition
Report published by the House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee. Looks at the potential impact on farmers of the move to the new Environmental Land Management Scheme in England, following the UK’s departure from the EU Common Agricultural Policy. Published on 28 October 2021.

Survive and Thrive
Report from the Irish Farmers Journal and KPMG examining how the Irish agribusiness sector has adapted in the wake of the dual threat of COVID-19 and Brexit. Published on 21 May 2021.

Seafood and meat exports to the EU
Report from the House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee. Areas considered include how the TCA has affected seafood and meat exporters to date, the effect on the market for British exports, the longer-term structural issues that now affect businesses and how some of these barriers to trade might be reduced. Published 29 April 2021.

Opportunities for the sheep sector
Report from the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board assessing key opportunities for the sheep sector now that the UK has left the EU. Includes sections on the sheep trade, domestic consumer demand, international consumer demand and competition analysis. Published April 2021.

Brexit impact report
Report from the British Meat Processors Association examining the impact of the first three months of trading with the EU as a third country. The report seeks to differentiate between 'teething problems' and more serious impediments to trade that are affecting British companies. Published 24 March 2021.

Vulnerabilities of supply chains post-Brexit
Study by LSE Consulting, commissioned by Arla Foods, on the vulnerability of the UK and EU food industry supply chains when the Brexit transition period ends. Considers a range of potential disruptors with the impact on trade, prices, product availability and labour estimated for both no-deal and Free Trade Agreement scenarios. Published in September 2020.

Brexit prospects for UK agri-food trade
Report from AHDB on how agricultural food trade could be affected once the UK leaves the EU. Includes sections on beef, sheep meat, pork and poultry meat. Published in February 2019.

Market research

Market research reports focusing on this business sector are available from a number of market research specialists. In most cases these reports are available to fee-paying subscribers or on a pay-as-you-go basis.

Some free information is available from the following market research specialists, ranging from industry news to executive summaries of the reports.

A full listing of reference products and research reports for the agricultural industry from Euromonitor, with a range of global, country and company level reports. Each report provides a contents listing and a useful executive summary reporting on the key trends in each country report.

Business and industry research specialists offering reports on a wide range of agricultural sectors. Report snapshots, table of contents and a sample report are available.

Report covering the future of the meat, poultry and fish industry is available with a summary and the option to view a contents listing.

Industry news

The Library can carry out industry news searches for ICAEW members and ACA students.

Statistics on the UK

UK Parliament

The research briefing English farm statistics: challenges, farm types and regions provides data on the challenges to English farms of inflationary pressures and the transition to new agricultural funding schemes. It also gives an overview of the structure of the agricultural sector in England with key statistics on farms by type and by region. Published by the House of Commons Library in September 2023


The Agriculture in the United Kingdom annual publication provides data collated by DEFRA. The statistics cover:

  • farm incomes
  • land use
  • livestock numbers
  • prices
  • production of key commodities
  • overseas trade
  • organic farming
  • the environment.

Office for National Statistics

The Annual Business Survey (ABS) from the Office for National Statistics collects financial information covering UK production, construction, distribution and service industries. Statistics available include:

  • number of enterprises;
  • total turnover;
  • approximate gross value added at basic prices;
  • total purchases of goods, materials and services;
  • total employment costs;
  • total net capital expenditure;
  • total net capital expenditure – acquisitions;
  • total net capital expenditure – disposals;
  • total stocks and work in progress – value at end of year;
  • total stocks and work in progress – value at beginning of year;
  • total stocks and work in progress – increase during year.

The dataset Non-financial business economy, UK: Sections A to S includes statistics for:

  • Support activities for animal production (01.62)
    See Section A: Agriculture, forestry and fishing

Farming and Rural Business Group (ICAEW)

Members of ICAEW's Farming and Rural Business Group have access to Key Farm Facts, a monthly statistical bulletin which includes livestock and milk prices, exchange rates and other useful information.

Statistics on Europe

Agricultural statistics

Eurostat, the EU statistics hub, compiles a wide range of figures in its main tables and database on agricultural products, including:

  • production of meat: pigs
  • production of meat: cattle
  • production of meat: sheep and goats
  • production of meat: poultry.

Farm Structure Survey

The Farm Structure Survey (FSS) provides data on agricultural holdings in the EU, including:

  • number of agricultural holdings
  • land use and area (crops)
  • livestock
  • main crops
  • farm labour force (including age, gender and relationship to the holder)
  • economic size of the holdings
  • type of activity
  • other gainful activity on the farm
  • system of farming
  • machinery
  • organic farming.

Statistics on Asia


ASEAN, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, produces an annual Statistical Yearbook which includes a chapter on agriculture. Figures cover:

  • agriculture land and land use
  • GDP share, employment, export and import share of agriculture sector
  • livestock and poultry population
  • livestock and poultry meat production
  • exports and imports of selected agricultural products and inputs
  • major markets of agricultural export commodities
  • origin of agricultural import commodities.

Statistics on Oceania

Meat and Livestock Australia

Meat and Livestock Australia provides regularly updated information on prices and markets, with indicators for cattle, sheep and lamb and goats.

Global statistics

UN Commodity Trade Statistics Database (Comtrade)

The UN compiles and publishes international import and export statistics in the Commodity Trade Statistics Database (Comtrade), giving figures for goods traded by value, quantity and weight for each country.

Statistics are available for:

  • Live animals (01)



The Office for National Statistics publication Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) includes average employment costs within this sector which can be found in Table 14. Average employment costs are provided for full-time employees, part-time employees and all employees.

The data includes average employment costs for:

  • farm managers
  • farmers
  • agricultural machinery drivers
  • farm workers.

The annual Business Register and Employment Survey (BRES), published by the Office for National Statistics, includes total employee and employment estimates for different industries for Great Britain and the UK. Figures are broken down to show full-time/part-time and public/private splits. The dataset Industry – Business Register and Employment Survey (BRES): Table 2 includes statistics for:

  • Animal production (014)
  • Farm animal boarding and care (01621)
  • Other support activities for animal production (01629)

Other regions

Please see individual country profile pages for links to sources of national statistics.

Legislation and regulation


The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has a section on health and safety in agriculture, which includes latest regulations affecting this industry.

Gov.uk provides some guidance on the main legislation applicable to various sectors, including farming and livestock.

The Rural Payments Agency is a government organisation that administers rural payments and grants for a number of different schemes to support farming and the food sector.

Farming businesses: working after Brexit transition
Guidance from the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs for farming businesses from 1 January 2021. Areas covered include: Farm and rural payments; Importing and exporting; Marketing standards; Employees; Food and drink labelling; Genetically modified organisms (GMOs); Fertilisers; Pesticides regulations; Chemical regulations; Water regulations.

Agricultural transition plan 2021 to 2024
Policy paper from the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs setting out the changes that will be made to agricultural policy in England from 1 January 2021. It also covers what these changes will mean for farmers and land managers. Published on 30 November 2020.

Import and export

Trade Tariff

The Trade Tariff is a useful Gov.uk database listing tax, duties and licenses for the import and export of goods between the UK and other countries. The database is searchable by product or commodity code and results can be filtered by date and country. Information also includes links to relevant conditions and regulations.

See import and export information for:

UK business guides

Atom Content Marketing guides

The Start Up Donut from Atom Content Marketing provides practical information on starting up and running a number of small business types. Guides cover a range of areas including market research, current trends, regulations, products and services, promotion and pricing. They include:

Farmers weekly

Farmers Weekly publishes a collection of resources on business management featuring articles, guides and case studies. Areas covered include: finance; business structures; people management and staff issues; succession planning; tenancies and rents; payments, schemes and grants; planning permission.

UK key players, ratios and trends

A range of reports on this sector are available to ICAEW members and ACA students via the Library.

UK benchmarking

The Library can supply benchmarking reports to ICAEW members and ACA students.

Trade bodies

Trade journals and publications

Trade journals, B2B magazines and specialist consumer magazines are another useful source of news and statistics.

Further reading

Articles and books in the Library collection

To find out how you can borrow books from the Library please see our guide to book loans.

You can obtain copies of articles or extracts of books and reports by post or email through our document supply service.

Can't find what you're looking for?

The ICAEW Library can give you the right information from trustworthy, professional sources that aren't freely available online. Contact us for expert help with your enquiries and research.

Every effort has been made to ensure that the information given in this Business & Industry Guide is correct. However, the content of websites changes frequently and users should satisfy themselves that the information they contain is suitable for the purposes for which they wish to use it. We would be grateful to receive notification of any broken links at library@icaew.com.


ICAEW accepts no responsibility for the content on any site to which a hypertext link from this site exists. The links are provided ‘as is’ with no warranty, express or implied, for the information provided within them. Please see the full copyright and disclaimer notice.

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