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Brexit will force Irish farmers to be more competitive


Image: Roger Jones

Image: Roger Jones

Fiona Thorne

Fiona Thorne


Image: Roger Jones

Brexit will force Irish farming to deal with its competitive deficiencies compared to some international producers, an economist has warned.

Teagasc's Fiona Thorne said their latest research on competitiveness has reinforced the message that our dairy sector remains more competitive by international standards than our beef, tillage and sheep farms.

The report also pinpoints the extent of Irish beef farmers' over-reliance on subsidies from Brussels compared to their counterparts in key competitor countries such as France, UK and Germany.

"It is reinforcing the old message - it is not today or yesterday that we have realised the economics on suckler and beef farms was low," said Dr Thorne.

The Competitiveness of Irish Agriculture report found the typical Irish suckler farm is one of the worst performing farms when judged on the economic profit per 100kg liveweight produced. The sector here is less competitive than most North and South American farms.


The report states cash costs on Irish finishing farms are higher than costs on typical Brazilian, Argentinian and Australian farms.

It warns the lack of competitiveness could be considered a "warning signal" for the future performance of the average-sized beef farm in the global environment.

Dr Thorne emphasised that, based on a 'hard' Brexit scenario with liberalisation of trade in the UK, Teagasc estimate a 10pc reduction in farmgate beef prices and a 10pc cut in subsidies. This could mean a €4,000 fall on suckler farms that earn on average just over €12,600 annually and a €5,000 a year fall on cattle finishing systems.

The IFA has already warned that if the most pessimistic view of Brexit was to come to pass, it could devastate suckler production with a 37pc fall in income. The ICSA's Eddie Punch said, in such an instance, beef farmers may have to consider reducing production despite expansions planned in Food Wise 2025.

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