Dairy farmers make big income gains
BEEF and sheep farmers saw huge drops in income last year, but dairy farmers made big gains.
The Teagasc National Farm Survey 2013 showed that average incomes on Irish farms rose by 1pc to €25,639 but this masked “dramatically contrasting fortunes across the different components of Irish farming”.
Cattle rearing farms saw incomes decline by 22pc due to higher production costs associated with severe fodder shortages early last year.
And sheep farms saw incomes decline by a massive 39pc due to lower output and high costs.
On tillage farms meanwhile despite costs remaining steady and yields increasing, lower prices for grain and a smaller area of crops sown meant that average incomes dropped.
However dairy remained the star performer of Irish farming, with average incomes rising to €64,371.
This was due to much higher milk prices and higher output per hectare.
Farmers saw their farm subsidy payments fall by 8pc on average last year due to reductions in the single payment and environmental scheme and to the ending of the suckler cow welfare scheme.
Teagasc economist Dr Kevin Hanrahan said that farmer’s dependence on subsidies had declined in 2013 compared to 2012, but on beef and sheep farms they still accounted for more than what farmers earned from selling their food.
“This overwhelming dependence of incomes on direct payments highlights the fact that on many Irish farms costs of production far exceeded returns from the market in 2013,” he said.