Farm Ireland

Wednesday 22 November 2017

Ireland leading EU with a 28pc rise in incomes

Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

Income on Irish farms outperformed the European average by rising 28pc last year, the latest Central Statistics Office (CSO) figures have confirmed.

While farm incomes across the EU27 rose by 18pc between 2009 and last year, Irish farm incomes lifted by an extra 10pc.

However, farm organisations have insisted that the income increase was merely a recovery from a disastrous 2008/2009 period when Irish farmers suffered an income drop of more than 40pc.

IFA president John Bryan said the final CSO farm income figures for last year confirmed the recovery in agriculture, but pointed out that average farm incomes were still only €18,000 last year.

"The single farm payment and the farm schemes continue to be crucial for all farm families and make up a very significant proportion of net farm income," he added. "Teagasc figures show that direct payments made up 94pc of farm income last year."

ICSA president Gabriel Gilmartin added that while average income levels were up, they were only repairing the damage done in previous years.

"The average farm income is still less than €20,000, which isn't a sustainable figure for any business," he insisted.

According to the CSO figures, the value of goods output by the agriculture sector increased by 12.2pc or €578.8m last year. One of the biggest drivers of this was the value of milk output, which increased by 40pc or €439m as both the volume of milk produced and its price rose.

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The value of cattle output also increased by 1.8pc or €26.7m, primarily due to higher prices last year, while the value of pig output rose by 9.3pc, or €28.4m last year.

Meanwhile, escalating feed, fuel and fertiliser prices are threatening to slow down the recovery in farm incomes.

Both Mr Bryan and Mr Gilmartin warned that rising input costs were adding to volatility, which had the potential to undermine production.

"Our model of family farming cannot absorb the impact of a 'boom-bust' cycle," said Mr Bryan.

"These figures also show that vital schemes need to be protected as they are a necessity to the overall viability of farms," added Mr Gilmartin.

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