IFA President John Bryan said today’s preliminary farm income estimate from the CSO confirms the difficult income situation on farms in 2012. “The drop of 10.4% has put increased pressure on farm families, and underlines the importance of direct payments and farm schemes in a year when farmers faced the twin challenges of very bad weather and higher input costs.”
John Bryan said, “This estimate from CSO makes the Budget cuts announced by Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney on Wednesday all the more inexplicable. The Government would have been well aware of the tight financial situation on farms, yet farm schemes bore the brunt of the cuts imposed by the Minister. In particular, the drystock sector suffered heavily as a result of the closure of the Suckler Cow Welfare Scheme and cuts to the Sheep Grassland Scheme and Disadvantaged Areas Scheme”.
Mr Bryan said low-income farmers were questioning why they appear to have been singled out for such harsh treatment by the Minister. “Farmers who were expecting support during a difficult year have been targeted unfairly by Budget decisions that attacked them disproportionately once again.”
The IFA President said today’s CSO figure shows that even with relatively stable prices, the income for farm families fell back because of the impact of the prolonged wet weather during the year and significant increases in the cost of inputs. “Cashflow is going to dry up on many farms this winter, as the full impact of fodder shortages and increased costs hit home.”
IFA believes the cost of feed may be higher when the final CSO calculations are done. This, along with more recent data relating to stock on farms from the AIMS system, accounts for the variance between IFA’s preliminary estimate and today’s CSO figure.