Mike Brady: Income figures reflect the inconvenient truths about Irish farming
The recently published National Farm Survey (NFS) for 2016 showed the average Family Farm Income (FFI) for Irish Farmers had fallen by 9pc to €23,848.
By any stretch of the imagination this is a very low annual income for the long hours worked.
According to the Central Statistics Office, the average wage of full-time employees in the state was €45,075 — almost double the annual income of farmers.
The significance of the content in the annual NFS is often lost because of the selective use of the figures by government and farm organisations to champion whatever political cause is in vogue at the time.
The reality is that average FFI has not changed much over the last six years (2011-16). The average figure for the five years is €25,362.
However, it is important to stress that the NFS results are derived from real farm business financial accounts — 861 farmers were analysed for the 2016 survey.
These figures represent the heartbeat of Irish farm businesses when it comes to assessing annual family farm income, and the figures are roughly equivalent to the gross income on a PAYE employee’s P60 statement of annual income.
Therefore, the farmer has to live, feed his or her family, pay tax, repayments on any mortgages and farm loans out of the €25,363.