Commenting on the results of the Teagasc National Farm Survey 2011, IFA President John Bryan said that while the figures reflected the more positive price and income environment in 2011, increasing costs, weather and falling product prices in some sectors in 2012 are putting pressure on farm incomes.
Mr Bryan said, “The increasing price and cost volatility affects all farm businesses. The CAP remains crucial in underpinning the primary agriculture sector, through Direct Payments and the Rural Development programme. It supports the family farm structure and provides some cushioning against this volatility, allowing farmers to maintain production. It is vital that Ireland’s funding envelope is maintained fully in the CAP post-2013.”
He continued, “While the Average Farm Income increased to almost €25,000 in 2011, there are still thousands of low-income farmers, particularly in the drystock sectors. These sectors have been impacted very negatively by the closure of the REPS scheme. It is critical that the Minister immediately re-opens the AEOS scheme for farmers who have left REPS 3.”
Commenting on the Teagasc analysis showing farmers had paid down a significant amount of debt in 2011, IFA Farm Business Chairman, Tom Doyle said, “the Teagasc figures support the earlier report by the Central Bank, which showed that the agriculture sector has the highest proportion of performing loans among the SME sector. Farm families are investing in their businesses and remain strongly committed to meeting their borrowing commitments.”
He said, “The banking sector must show equal commitment through the provision of credit, at a competitive rate to the farming sector. This is critical to underpin the investment required at farm level and in the agri-food sector to achieve the growth targets set out in Food Harvest 2020.”