Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Tuesday 25 April 2017

Just one in two dairy farmers are in profit

IFA President Eddie Downey
IFA President Eddie Downey
Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

Less than half of dairy farmers expect to make a profit this year, according to a Farming Independent survey of 1,000 farmers at last week's Ploughing.

It compares sharply with the highs of last year when three-quarters of dairy farmers surveyed reported their farm enterprises were profitable.

The expectations are even lower in the grain sector with only a third of tillage farmers reporting they'll make a profit when EU payments and subsidies are excluded.

After a buoyant year for cattle prices, 41pc of beef finishers expect to make a profit, but 53pc stated they would be running at a loss without EU payments.

Just 30pc of suckler farmers expect to make a profit and the figure is 37pc for sheep farmers.

When asked how much pressure they faced on borrowings, a third of dairy farmers reported higher borrowings this year.

After three years of poor prices for grain, concerns were understandably highest amongst tillage farmers with 59pc either 'very or fairly concerned' about their finances.

The IFA's president Eddie Downey said income volatility is threatening the viability of many farm families and said the Government and the EU will have to take decisive action to deliver equity in the food supply chain.

The survey results come ahead of today's Dairy Forum meeting to decide how the €13.7m in EU aid for Ireland's dairy and pigmeat sector should be distributed.

The IFA's dairy chair Sean O'Leary called for the aid to be matched by funds from the state and for the monies to be divided equally.

The ICMSA's Pat McCormack said the monies will cover a "tiny percentage of losses" but it would be fairest to share it out between dairy farmers.

Payments

There was also a clear view among farmers that farming organisations should publish details of payments to senior officials.

Salaries and other payments to senior officials heading organisations such as the IFA, ICMSA and ICSA are not disclosed to members.

The organisations are funded through a mixture of membership fees, levies collected by meat processors and dairies and business interests.

Earlier this year, the IFA, the country's largest farmers' organisation with 88,000 members, moved to strengthen an internal pay committee to address concerns over salary scales for its top staff.

Former Glanbia managing director John Moloney was appointed to the remuneration committee reviewing the pay and performance of general secretary Pat Smith.

The IFA has stated that salary information is not published, while the ICMSA said it costs €1.3m to run the body, including wages.

The ICMSA and ICSA said they were audited externally and accounts were approved at their AGMs.

Indo Farming