Extreme weather events were central to farmers taking a hit of more than €500m in increased feed, forage and fertiliser costs during 2018, according to the ICMSA.
The CSO’s figures for output, input and income in agriculture reveal a 16.8% reduction in operating surplus, with severe weather conditions resulting in a 13% increase in the cost of inputs.
To help farmers better manage the resulting income volatility, the ICMSA is urging the Department of Agriculture to accelerate the introduction of the Farm Management Deposit Scheme, ideally to be implemented as part of Budget 2020.
ICMSA president, Pat McCormack, said: “In terms of financial impact on farmers, the figures are catastrophic and show the cost of feed increasing by €355m, forage costs by almost €200m and fertiliser by almost €70m giving an accurate idea of the challenge that Irish farming faced in 2018.
"We desperately and obviously need measures that can address that destructive cycle and a proven solution, the Farm Management Deposit Scheme, needs to be introduced as a matter of urgency,” said Mr McCormack.