Almost half of all income of farmers is now from non-farming activities

Almost half of all income of farmers is now from non-farming activities

Almost half of all income declared by farming households is now derived from non-farming activities.

New figures published by Revenue based on the tax returns of over 146,300 farmers in 2017 highlight the dependency of farming households on other sources of income to maintain living standards.

The latest figure shows 49.6% of all declared income by farmers in 2017 came from non-farming sources.

Almost €6.8bn in gross income was earned by farmers in 2017, of which €3.42bn came directly from farming.

The figures include income from a farmer and their spouse or civil partner where a couple is assessed jointly for tax purposes.

Non-farming income accounts for the majority of earnings for farmers in 11 counties including Sligo, Mayo and Leitrim where it accounts for over 70% of gross income.

According to Revenue, average gross income for farming households in the Republic rose by 3.1% to €46,447 in 2017, including a 7.6% increase in income from farming to €23,627.

Figures published by the tax authorities show that farmers in the south and east of the country have above average earnings with farmers in Waterford having the highest average income from farming in 2017 at €37,331.

Average annual income from farming was as low as €10,489 for farmers in Leitrim.

However, income from non-farming sources, which includes social welfare payments, tends to be highest in counties with lower average incomes from farming.

Farmers in Sligo had the highest level of earnings derived from non-farming sources at over €31,000 on average.

In contrast farmers in Waterford earned an average of less than €12,000 from such income.

Based on all revenue streams, farmers in Kildare had the highest average gross income in 2017 at €55,113 followed by Dublin at €54,922 and Limerick at €51,948.

Farmers in Donegal had the lowest combined income at an average of €34,263 while Monaghan was the only the county where average annual income for farming households was under €40,000.

The Irish Farmers Association said the figures highlighted how low farm incomes actually are and the pressures which farmers faced.

“2017 was one of the stronger years for dairy farmers but other sectors struggled,” said an IFA spokesperson.

She added: “The gains for dairy farmers in 2017 were also greatly eroded in 2018 due mainly to the summer drought.”

The latest figures from Revenue show almost 90,000 farmers declared income of over €2.1bn from other businesses, while almost 27,000 farmers earned €353.3m income from rent.

Almost 28,000 farmers declared deposit interest income of €20m and 19,000 farmers listed income of €45.5m from dividends on shares.

Outside farming and forestry, construction provided the greatest source of income from other work carried out by farmers with almost 3,000 earning €69.5m from the sector in 2017.

The figures also highlight the ageing profile of the farming community with almost 17% of farmers aged over 70 years, while just 14% are under 30 years.

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