IFA President Joe Healy said the National Farm Survey results published today expose the fragility of farm incomes and should serve as a ‘wake up’ call at EU and Government level.
He said, “Average suckler farm income at just over €8,000 reflects the truly dire situation in what is our largest farming enterprise in the country”.
Weather conditions had a significant impact on farm performance, reducing margins through increased input requirements. Increased spending on fertiliser in the latter half of the year and higher contracting costs resulted in higher expenditure across all farms in the region of 20%.
For suckler farmers the decline in income of 22% to €8,318 was driven by costs and a reduction in output. Increases of 16% in direct costs for tillage farmers was primarily driven by fertiliser use, with average expenditure just under €12,000 per farm.
In the dairy sector the fall in income is considerably worse than estimated, primarily driven by higher feed inputs, with a fall of 31% in income.
The viability of farms remains very serious, with only 32% of all farms classified as viable according to Teagasc. This varies across systems, with 73% of dairy farmers economically viable while only 11% of suckler farmers reach that threshold.
“Farmers need an agri-environment scheme similar to the REPS scheme of the past, with a maximum payment of up to €10,000 per farm to be included as part of the CAP National Strategic Plan”.
“Today’s results highlight the volatility facing farmers. We want Government to support proposals put forward for income volatility which allows farmers to use a precautionary savings mechanism to help stabilise incomes in a sector that is fundamentally exposed to global uncertainty.”