2018 was a tough year for the farming sector
An extremely difficult year for farmers was documented in the recently published Teagasc Annual Review.
According to IFA President Joe Healy, the figures outlined in the review came as no surprise to anyone involved in farming.
He said that the report confirms that 2018 was an extremely difficult year for farming, in large part due to unprecedented weather conditions.
The knock-on effects of this, such as the increased cost of fuel inputs and an increase in feed use per head eroded margins on Irish farms.
He said that while the report expected some recovery in 2019, this is very much dependent on factors outside of farmers' control.
The IFA President said that it was more critical than ever for Government to step-up and provide certainty to a sector that employs over 300,000 people directly and indirectly.
'Farming, like any other large sector needs a certain level of certainty. While factors such as the weather are beyond our control, there are other ways that farming and the agriculture sector can be protected. Average farm incomes are 40 per cent of average earnings in other sectors across the EU. On cattle rearing and sheep farms, direct payments account for up to 115 per cent of average farm income. These direct payments must be maintained, at a minimum,' he said.
Citing Brexit as the primary concern for 2019, Mr Healy said that the outlook is uncertain.
'The medium-term outlook for agriculture is very uncertain, not least as a result of policy and trade issues stemming from Brexit. 2019 is a critical year, given the decisions that will be made on CAP post-2020. Farmers need an increase in the CAP Budget to at least keep pace with inflation and to support farmers, in order to provide some small level of security,' he said.