Farm Ireland

Tuesday 12 December 2017

Number Crunching sheep and potato profit margins

This is the last week of our analyses on the profitability of the main enterprises on Irish farms. Sheep and potatoes are under the spotlight this week. Once again, the exercise highlights the serious lack of profitability in some of our traditional livestock enterprises.

Potatoes is one of those enterprises that always looks good on paper. But, as any potato farmer will tell you in recent years, there is a fine line between making a good living and losing your shirt completely. With just a few tonnes per acre between a successful crop and a loss-making situation, this is no business for the faint hearted (see table 4).


The hope will be that the stronger sheep and lamb prices of recent months will make this a more viable sector next year (see tables 1-3).

The profit projection in table 3 is based on a 100ac farm engaged in a 400-ewe mid-season lamb production enterprise finishing 600 lambs. The farm has €50,000 total debt, is efficient is participating in REPS 4 and is in a less severely disadvantaged area.

All the numbers used here are based on actual figures from farm accounts. More detailed analyses of the various enterprises are contained in the Farmers' Handbook, compiled by agri-consultant Martin O'Sullivan in conjunction with the ACA.

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