Monday 19 August 2019

One-third of beef farmers feel 'uncertain about their future'

Stock photo.
Stock photo.
Claire Fox

Claire Fox

More than a third of Irish beef farmers are uncertain if they will be farming in five years' time, according to a new report.

The Irish Farm Report 2019, carried out by Irish Farms Accounts Co-operative (IFAC), surveyed more than 2,000 farmers and analysed trends from 21,755 sets of on-farm financial accounts.

It found that 38pc of beef farmers are uncertain if they will be farming in five years, while 86pc of all farmers surveyed do not have a clear succession plan in place.

It outlined that 43pc of farmers say their business is not viable enough to encourage the next generation to take it on, and more than 80pc of farmers surveyed have an off-farm source of income coming into the household.

It found that more than 95pc of farmers questioned depend exclusively on family members to help on the farm, while only 6pc have full-time on-farm employees.

It also highlighted that a quarter of farm households have no pension plan for the farmer or their spouse.

The survey showed that the average dairy farm profit dropped by 25pc from €1,077/ha (2017) to €804/ha, excluding EU subsidies, in 2018. Meanwhile, the average beef farm lost €116/ha, excluding EU subsidies, in 2018.

Feed costs were 30pc higher for dairy farms and 40pc higher for beef farms in 2018, due to the adverse weather conditions in that year.

IFAC CEO John Donoghue said the survey showed there were many challenges in the sector, but farmers had many reasons to remain optimistic.

Irish Independent

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