'Booming incomes not a reality for most dairy farmers'
Predictions of record-breaking dairy incomes of €80,000 for 2017 will not be a reality for most dairy farmers, ICMSA president John Comer has warned.
Last week Teagasc stated that average dairy farm incomes are forecast to rise to between €75,000 and €80,000 in 2017 as part of its mid-year commentary on the economic performance of Irish agriculture.
The record-breaking earnings are envisaged in line with recovering milk prices, higher milk production and the potential for average dairy farm margins to double this year.
However, the ICMSA has cautioned that outstanding debts will act as a barrier.
"Though we welcome the positive performance of dairy in 2017 we must not get carried away. Outstanding debts from last year still need to be paid and money needs to be put back into farms.
"Tax, drawings and bank repayments must come out, so this kind of income will not be the reality for the vast majority of dairy farmers."
Mr Comer pointed to the latest 2015 National Farm Survey, which highlighted that 63pc of dairy farmers have an average debt over €100,000.
"Farmers don't want this 'peak/trough' model that we've ended up with. We were wiped out in 2016. As an industry we need to employ strategies to protect this vital sector from milk price volatility," he said.