IFA President, Eddie Downey, said that the Farm Income figures for 2014 starkly illustrate the disconnect between the increasing contribution of agriculture to the economy and the returns that farmers themselves are receiving.
Mr Downey said, “CSO figures, which show a drop of 1% in farm incomes nationally for 2014, come less than a week after Teagasc’s projections for 2015, which show that farm enterprises across all sectors are facing another very challenging year, with particular concerns for the dairy sector”.
He said, “The depressing reality is that in 2014 conditions were right for farmers to generate a good income from their farms; favourable weather conditions, reduced input volumes, a fall in input costs and an increase in output for most sectors. That farm incomes did not improve in 2014 is almost single handedly down to the fall in prices farmers received for their products, across almost all sectors, including beef, dairy, pigmeat, cereals and potatoes”.
He said, “Farmers rightly feel aggrieved that their output has contributed in a significant way to Ireland’s economic recovery through the growth in value of agri-food exports and employment growth, but their incomes have remained static over the past three years”.
Mr Downey said, “The new agri-strategy 2025, which will be developed over the coming months, must put as a priority an increase in farm profitability. Change must come from outside of the farm-gate, in addition to farmers increasing their on-farm efficiency. This must include increased price transparency across the food supply chain, greater bargaining powers for primary producers, and real actions to tackle input costs”.
The IFA President also noted the drop in direct payments and said funding under Rural Development would have to increase in the coming years. “We also need to see immediate approval in Brussels for the new Rural Development Plan and the opening of GLAS, with significant payments in 2015.”
Mr Downey concluded, “Farmers will play their part, as they did in Food Harvest 2020, in contributing to the overall growth of the agri-food sector, but unless there is a sustained increase in profitability across the primary agriculture sector, these growth targets will not be met”.