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Teagasc survey finds average farming incomes rose last year

Despite increased production costs many farming incomes increased during 2021


Survey found the average dairy farm income rose to just over €97,000.

Survey found the average dairy farm income rose to just over €97,000.

Survey found the average dairy farm income rose to just over €97,000.


WHILE higher output prices across most farm enterprises proved to be main key driver behind the increase in farm incomes during 2021, the scale of that increase varied considerably across farm systems.

That was one of the key findings of the 2021 Teagasc National Farm Survey released this week, which covered almost 85,000 farms across the country.

The report found that farms experienced a general increase in production costs as the price of fuel, feed and fertiliser rose, marking the start of an escalation in overall costs that has intensified this year.

The emergence of the global economy following the Covid slowdown saw supply chains struggle to keep pace with demand, leading to what the 81-page report summary said were “sharp increases” in crude oil, and natural gas prices.

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The knock-on effect of this was increases in fertiliser, fuel and electricity prices in addition to a vast range of other goods and services.

“Collectively, these led to a significant increase in farm production costs in 2021,” read the summary.

It said that rising international agricultural commodity prices were a feature of 2021, resulting in higher farm level output prices in Ireland.

The report found that weather condition led to a “relatively normal” and proved favourable in terms of crop production, leading to an overall increase in Irish cereal yields.

Across the key farm output categories, cereal and milk prices were the best performers in 2021, with prices for cereal crops up by over 30% in some instances while milk prices recorded an average 13% increase.

Lamb prices increased by almost 30%, prime cattle by 12% and young cattle by 8%.

Despite an 11% increase in dairy production costs, a combination of increases in output volume and higher prices saw average dairy incomes increase to €97,350 – a 23% rise on 2020.

While costs in the cattle rearing system, which is comprised of farms that mainly specialise in suckler beef production, rose by 10% the output value on cattle rearing farms increased by 15% in 2021, mainly due to higher cattle prices.

Overall, the average cattle rearing income was up by 30% on 2020 to €10,927 while the value of support payments also increased.

Production costs slightly increased the ‘cattle other’ system, which comprised of mainly beef finishing farms but also includes farms selling store cattle. While support payments were lower, the value of farm output increased by 3% due to higher cattle prices, resulting an average income of €16,416 representing a 6% increase on the 2020 figure.

While higher feed prices saw production costs on sheep farms rise , higher lamb prices did result in a 16% in the value of farm output. Despite the level of direct payments being down, average sheep farm incomes increase by 14% over 2020 to €20,500.

Higher fertiliser, feed and contractor charges saw production costs on tillage farms increase by a whopping 24% last year, far higher than that of grassland systems. However, this was offset by higher crop yields that saw average tillage incomes increase by 77% to almost €59,000. The substantially higher cereal prices in 2021 also helped to boost the value of farm output, which increased by 47%.

Teagasc said that while pig farms are not included within the annual survey, did show a fall in incomes due to higher feed prices and other input costs combined with a substantial fall in pig prices.

“These price movements meant that pig producers moved into loss making territory as 2021 progressed,” read the report summary.

“Taking into account income developments across various farm system, the average family farm income rose by 26% in Ireland during 2921 to just over €34,300,” it concluded.

Teagasc said it should be noted that around 45,000 very small farms, representing around 15% of agricultural land area were not covered by the report but will be surveyed later on this year.

The full Teagasc National Farm Survey 2021 is available to read at