Half of all farm income earned away from land

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Seán McCárthaigh

Farming households now pull in almost half of their income from other activities, tax figures have revealed.

The details published by Revenue, and based on the tax returns of more than 146,300 farmers in 2017, highlight the dependency of farming households on other sources of income to maintain living standards.

They show that 49.6pc of all declared income by farmers in 2017 came from non-farming sources.

Almost €6.8bn in gross income was earned by farmers in 2017, of which €3.42bn came directly from farming.

The figures include income from a farmer and their spouse or civil partner where a couple is assessed jointly for tax purposes.

Outside farming and forestry, construction provided the greatest source of income from other work carried out by farmers with almost 3,000 earning €69.5m from the sector in 2017.

Non-farming income accounts for the majority of earnings for farmers in 11 counties, including Sligo, Mayo and Leitrim where it accounts for more than 70pc of gross income.

According to Revenue, the average gross income for farming households rose by 3.1pc to €46,447 in 2017, including a 7.6pc increase in income from farming to €23,627.

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Figures published by the tax authorities show that farmers in the south and east of the country have above average earnings, with farmers in Waterford having the highest average income from farming in 2017 at €37,331.

Average annual income from farming fell as low as €10,489 for farmers in Leitrim.

However, income from non-farming sources, which includes social welfare payments, tends to be highest in counties with lower average incomes from farming.

Farmers in Sligo had the highest level of earnings derived from non-farming sources at more than €31,000 on average. In contrast, farmers in Waterford earned an average of less than €12,000 from such income.

Farmers in Kildare had the highest average gross income at €55,113, followed by Dublin at €54,922 and Limerick at €51,948.

Farmers in Donegal had the lowest combined income at an average €34,263. Monaghan was the only other county where average annual income was under €40,000.

The Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) said the figures highlight how low farm incomes are and the pressures farmers face.

"2017 was one of the stronger years for dairy farmers but other sectors struggled," said an IFA spokesperson.

"The gains for dairy farmers in 2017 were also greatly eroded in 2018 due mainly to the summer drought."

Irish Independent


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