Farmers struggled to cope with the difficulties presented by severe weather and challenging conditions on farms last year.
The financial impact on farm incomes was revealed yesterday in newly released data from the Teagasc National Farm Survey Average feed expenditure was up 34% due to a substantial increase in the volume of purchased feed and fodder required to make up for the shortfall in grass production The average family farm income on cattle rearing farms dipped to an estimated €8,318, a 22% reduction on the €10,642 in 2017.
Dairy farms incurred the largest reductions, with average income falling by 31% to €61,273, compared with the 2017 level of €88,829. Average sheep farm income fell from €17,357 to €13,769, a 21% reduction.
Tillage farmers benefitted from a large jump in harvest prices relative to 2017. In spite of low yields, this price increase was large enough to boost the average income to €42,678, an 18% increase on the 2017 figure of €36,048.
Across the farm sector as a whole, the average family farm income in 2018 declined by 21%, dropping from €29,774 in 2017 to €23,483. However, the average on individual farm systems continues to vary greatly.
IFA president Joe Healy said the results expose the fragility of farm incomes and should serve as a ‘wake up’ call at EU and Government level.
“Average suckler farm income at just over €8,000 reflects the truly dire situation in what is our largest farming enterprise in the country,” he said, adding that the fall in dairy sector income was worse than estimated.