Farming

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Surge keeps farm outputs above rising input costs

Surging agricultural prices have kept the value of farm output racing ahead of rising input costs.

However, other European farmers suffered from the complete opposite scenario last year, according to the latest figures from the CSO and Eurostat.

Despite the cost of key inputs on Irish farms such as electricity and fertilisers rising by 12pc and 8pc respectively in the 12 months up to January this year, record prices for farm commodities such as cattle and calves have succeeded in keeping farmers ahead of rising costs.

The CSO data shows that the overall agricultural output price index in January was more than 11pc higher than the same period last year. In contrast, the input price index was up 3pc over the course of the year.

Cattle prices were the best-performing farm output, increasing by 23pc over the period. Calf prices were another star performer, with an annual increase of more than 50pc, while wool prices saw the biggest increase, with a massive 75pc rise from January last year to January this year. Poultry prices also increased by a significant 19pc.

Milk, vegetables and sheep prices experienced a much more modest rise of less than 2pc. Cereals increased by 6pc and pigs were up nearly 12pc.

Suffer

The only output to suffer a noticeable drop in value during the year was potatoes, which fell by 10pc.

Almost all inputs, with the exception of veterinary charges, also increased in cost last year, albeit at much lower rates than output prices. Electricity prices rose fastest, up nearly 12pc in January this year compared to the same month last year.

Motor fuels also increased by 10pc during the period, while seed costs were up by 4pc. General fertiliser prices rose more than 8pc, but phosphorus and potassium compounds were up by 12pc.

Feed prices rose by less than 2pc, with pig and calf feeds up the most at 3pc.

The Irish input and output increases were markedly different from the trend across the EU, where farmers saw input costs rise at double the rate of output prices. From September 2010 to September last year, countries such as Britain and many new member states experienced agricultural input rises of close to 20pc.

During the same period, input costs rose just 11pc in Ireland.

On the output side, agricultural prices increased only 7pc on average across the EU, just over half the rate of increase reported in Ireland.

Indo Farming