Farming survey: Splashing the cash as the rural recovery takes hold

Farmers are back spending as the recovery finally starts to percolate into rural areas.

Emma Ginty from Donadee, Co Kildare, with her twin two-week-old lambs at the National Ploughing championships. Picture: Dan Linehan

Findings from the Irish Examiner/ICMSA opinion poll show one sixth of respondents bought a new car in the past 12 months, while one in seven splashed out on a family holiday.

While confidence is growing, the extent to which people feel more comfortable spending money on larger items is still affected by the years of the economic crash.

The opinion poll, which focused on farmers and farm families, found:

  • 16% of those questioned spent on a new car in the past year;
  • 14% spent on a family holiday;
  • 10% had spent additional money over the past year on clothes;
  • 10% said they saved more.

In 2013, our poll found 57% of respondents said they were cutting back on large purchases such as cars. That year, the poll also found that 21% were cutting back on family holidays, 10% were cutting back on clothing, and 15% were cutting back on savings.

Taken together, the figures appear to suggest that while there has been a rise in discretionary spending, it has some way to go to return to pre-crash levels of confidence. The areas where spending has increased is also notable. While a larger percentage of respondents have spent more in the past year on cars and holidays, just 5% have spent more going to the pub, whereas 8% have spent more eating out.

Fewer than one in 14 (7%) have spent more in the past year on electrical goods versus 5% who have spent more on the farm and just 2% who have spent more on machinery. Another 2% of those questioned spent more on the cost of living.

The increased purchasing power is also more likely to be exerted by those aged 35 to 44 (of whom 24% have spent more in the past year on a car) and those aged 45 to 54 (23%), although those aged under 34 had the highest percentage of people who have spent more freely on holidays, savings, eating out and going to the pub than their older peers.

The poll also finds the spread of increased spending is lower for tillage farmers compared to dairy, cattle and other sectors.

ICMSA president John Comer said the findings seemed to be in accordance with restoration of confidence in the overall economy and that there was no indication there is a spending-surge from farmers.

Teagasc economist Kevin Hanrahan said: “I think that incomes from farming were not particularly affected by the great recession — farms with household members with off-farm jobs saw negative impacts via redundancy and wage cuts — like most other non-farm households.”

He added that many farm families have become more integrated into the wider economy through off-farm income and “while there have been dramatic ups and downs in dairy farm incomes in particular over the last 10 years, changes in the agricultural incomes in other sectors have been much less dramatic.”

He added that this year has been a record year for dairy incomes.

Irish Examiner ICMSA farming poll

The Irish Examiner ICMSA farming poll was designed to provide a robust and accurate snapshot of the attitudes, beliefs and opinions of the farming community about a range of issues, both farming and social. The survey involved 569 interviews with farm dwelling adults in the Republic of Ireland.

Fieldwork was completed by Behaviour & Attitudes over a two-week period between August 13 and 27, with interviewing undertaken onsite by Behaviour & Attitudes interviewers across eight agricultural shows. The sample size is large and the data has a statistical margin of error of +/-4%.

The sampling approach involves a random probability method, with interviews being undertaken with attendees provided they worked and/or lived on a farm. 429 interviews were with farmers themselves, 31 with non family, farm employees, and the balance with spouses (66), most of whom -5 out of 6- personally work on the family farm as well.

All data is copyrighted by the Irish Examiner and Behaviour & Attitudes and should be attributed to this source where quoted.

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