Responding to the Teagasc National Farm Survey for 2015, IFA President Joe Healy said the outcome for 2016 will be significantly worse as the farm income crisis deepens across sectors because of falling prices and poor weather.
“The Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed needs to recognise that there is a real income crisis on farms which has been heightened by the negative price pressures across all sectors in 2016. IFA has identified the immediate issues as poor product prices, lack of retail regulation, input costs and a Mercosur trade deal. We need real action immediately here and in Brussels to deliver positive change for farmers.”
On direct payments, these make up a significant element of income, particularly for drystock and tillage farmers. There is an opportunity for the Minister to boost income by raising GLAS entrants to over 50,000 and by bringing forward the Government commitment to increase ANC payments. A 70% advance on the Basic Payment in October would help cashflow.
Joe Healy said, “It is clear from the figures that the abolition of milk quotas resulted in an increase in cow numbers and expansion in milk output which combined with reduced input expenditure on concentrate feed tempered the significant drop in milk price of 20%. However the poor growth conditions in Spring 2016 and continued poor milk means that a 4% income drop in 2015 is an income crisis for dairy farmers in 2016”.
The IFA President said, “The increase in tillage income masks the underlying problem in the sector of falling returns for the investment. The inability to re-invest is unsustainable for the sector. IFA will continue its campaign to abolish tariffs on fertiliser and deliver a price reduction for farmers of a key input”.
On the drystock sector, Mr Healy said, “I have met with the Minister and made a strong case for the re-opening of BDGP to applicants this year to support our Suckler Cow. I also welcome the commitment to €25m for a new sheep scheme which is essential to maintain our national ewe flock. These sectors are making a significant contribution to the economic growth, through export growth and employment; however, the reality is that farmers are not receiving a fair and sustainable income. The Minister must immediately act to improve the viability of the drystock sectors”.