Saturday 1 October 2016

Teagasc and IFA at odds on farm income figures

Published 17/02/2016 | 02:30

The IFA and Teagasc are at odds on how much farm incomes have fallen.
The IFA and Teagasc are at odds on how much farm incomes have fallen.

The IFA has estimated that farm incomes fell less in 2015 than the 9pc calculated by Teagasc. The Farm Income Review compiled by IFA economist Kevin Kilcline states that average incomes were down on 2014 by 3pc, or €75m.

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The main reason for the fall was the drop in milk prices and dairy farm incomes. While there was also a fall in the prices for pigmeat, cereals and poultry, prices for sheep, beef, poultry and potatoes all increased.

In addition, output volumes are estimated to have risen significantly for the dairy and cereals sector, while there was also some rise in cattle, sheep and poultry volumes. Good growing conditions for pasture and crops resulted in lower input costs and good performance across most sectors.

Deteriorating weather conditions during the winter affected vegetable growers most, with the IFA's horticulture chairman, Matt Foley, claiming there was a crisis unfolding in the fields.

"Waterlogging and higher disease levels have resulted in crop losses running up to 30pc across all lines," he said.

Beef prices increased by 8pc for finished animals, while production costs fell during a kind summer and autumn.

Sheep farms recorded a marginal increase in prices, resulting in a slight increase in the estimated income on sheep farms, to about €16,000.

The potato sector recorded a 45pc price increase, while the pigmeat sector recorded a 19pc fall.

Despite a 17pc rise in new lending to agriculture since 2013, overall borrowings continues to fall, suggesting that farmers are paying down debt at an even faster rate.

Despite the increases, farm incomes of €24,000 in 2015 are only two thirds of 1995 levels, and 66pc of the average industrial wage, and the majority of drystock and tillage farmers would be making a loss without their EU subsidies.

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