Farm Ireland

Saturday 18 November 2017

Farm incomes rise 46pc as cereals lead recovery

Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

The agriculture sector has rebounded after two years of low prices to generate a 46pc rise in farm income this year, provisional figures from the Central Statistics Office have revealed.

The major recovery in incomes was driven by increases in the value of milk, cattle and particularly cereals over the past 12 months.

The figures reveal that farm incomes have recovered after they fell by 40pc in 2009 and 2008.

Comparing this year with last year, the CSO analysis showed that goods output at producer prices rose by 16.3pc or €767.3m, while milk output rose by 38.8pc or €427m.

The value of cattle went up 12.2pc or €177.6m, while a 7.8pc increase in the value of pigs output generated an additional €24m.

However, the biggest difference between last year and this, in a single sector, was the 88.8pc -- €12.3m -- difference between the value of cereals in 2009 and the past 12 months.

This year's figure of €202m for cereal output was the second highest annual figure in the past 15 years, according to Minister for Agriculture Brendan Smith.

The minister welcomed the figures, which he said pointed to a massive recovery following a very difficult 2009.

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He added that the 7.2pc increase in dairy production was a very positive first step towards achieving the ambitious targets set out in the Food Harvest 2020 report.

IFA president John Bryan said the increase indicated a strong recovery in the sector after two very difficult years in agriculture and amounted to an average farm income of €17,500 in the past year.

"The single farm payment and the farm schemes are crucial for all farm families and continue to make up a very significant proportion of net farm income," he said.


"From a point 12 months ago when farm incomes collapsed, this improvement is very much needed by farm families whose livelihoods were badly affected by a range of factors in 2008 and 2009."

However, ICMSA general secretary Ciaran Dolan said it was important to note that the estimated income in the past 12 months was virtually the same as 2008 and some more telling facts were revealed when the figures were analysed.

"We see that the value of milk output this year has not recovered to the 2008 figure, while energy costs have increased by 8.5pc," he said.

"Yet the country still awaits any action on reducing the extremely high costs of electricity that goes past yet another empty review.

"There was a welcome decrease in interest payments of 17pc brought about, primarily, by lower interest rates because the capital amounts outstanding only decreased by 10pc.

"This clearly is a major issue, given the weakness of Irish banks and the fact that competition in the banking sector will be lower while the cost of funds to the banks will increase."

Irish Independent