Farm Ireland

Sunday 25 February 2018

Farmers hit hard as 30pc lose off-farm jobs in '09

Majella O'Sullivan

Majella O'Sullivan

Almost one-third of farmers lost their off-farm jobs last year, Teagasc research shows.

In the construction sector alone, the rate of job losses was higher for farmers than any other group -- 53pc of farmers lost their building jobs last year compared to 33pc of the population.

Cathal O'Donoghue, head of the Teagasc Rural Economy Research Centre, said that rural incomes remained at about 84pc of urban incomes and there was a continuing trend in higher rural poverty.

"Despite the rise in off-farm incomes, which now account for more than half of all farm household income, farm households have observed a secular decline in household incomes relative to non-farm households over the past 20 years," Mr O'Donoghue said.

He said the collapse of commodity prices, inclement weather and the global economic downturn had all contributed to a 'tsunami' year for Irish farmers.

"Particularly worrying, from a farming point of view, is the continued cost-price squeeze, with ratio of cost price to output rising, putting further pressure on margins," he said.

Mr O'Donoghue indicated that the only feasible solution out of the present crisis would have to be led by exports.

He said that, because further expenditure reductions would be needed to return the economy to the European monitory union requirement of a 3pc deficit, there were limits to the capacity of the State to drive economic growth through Government consumption.

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He added the focus over the next five years would be on achieving economic stability rather than growth.

Liam Connolly, head of the national farm survey, said the dairy sector had suffered the largest decline in incomes and farm building and machinery investment had collapsed.

Irish Independent