Farming boom as incomes surge 27pc
FARMERS are hoping for another positive year after enjoying a 27pc rise in incomes in 2011.
The average farm income rose €21,500 last year, according to Rowena Dwyer, chief economist for the Irish Farmers' Association (IFA).
"[Last year] saw a continuing recovery in farm incomes, with price and volume increases in almost all commodities," she said.
But while the outlook for this year remains positive, uncertainties in the eurozone and a weak UK market mean there are concerns for product prices and incomes.
The continuing downward spiral of the euro against other currencies has helped boost exports in the agri-food sector, Ms Dwyer said.
Speaking at the release of the IFA Farm Income Review for 2011, Ms Dwyer said the turmoil in financial markets is having an erratic impact on commodity markets "with no clear price pattern linked to supply-demand balances".
"While the outlook for 2012 remains fairly positive, indications for international commodity prices suggest a slight easing back from the peaks of 2011," she added.
She also sounded a note of caution about exports to the UK this year.
Approximately 40pc of Irish agri-food exports go to the UK.
Meanwhile, Ms Dwyer stressed the ongoing importance of the Single Farm Payment scheme last year, which represented more than 70pc of farm income.
There was also an increase in the number of farmers turning to the Farm Assist programme last year.
A recent survey showed that 51pc of farm householders held an off-farm job in 2010, down from 58pc in 2007.
The number of Farm Assist recipients increased from 7,700 in 2008 to 11,300 by the end of 2011.
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