Average farm income stands at €13k, says IFA

FARM incomes have fallen by 30.3% this year, according to provisional CSO estimates published yesterday.

The drop follows a 10.9% decrease in 2008 and does not provide for any losses likely to arise from the current severe flooding.

Comparing 2009 with 2008 shows that the value of all goods output by the agriculture sector this year fell 18.9%.

The IFA says the figures represent the worst income crisis for the sector since Ireland joined what was then the Common Market 36 years ago while the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association said they merely confirm what is already known.

According to the CSO figures, the value of milk output fell this year almost 35% or €567m, due mainly to a decrease in prices.

Cattle output value was down 10.7% or €179m and the fall in respect of pigs was 12.6% or €42m.

The value of cereals output fell 52% or €104m. Total intermediate consumption was down 9% or €403m. Other figures in the advance estimate show the value of fertilisers down 18% or €91m, and the value of subsidies, less taxes on production, down from €1.9 billion in 2008 to €1.8bn this year.

IFA president Padraig Walshe said the CSO figures confirm a collapse of 30% in farm incomes this year are a stark illustration of the severe income crisis faced by farm families due to poor commodity prices, Government cuts, the continuing weakness of sterling and the dreadful weather conditions. He said the CSO figures mirror the preliminary estimate by the IFA two weeks ago.

“Coming on top of an income drop of 11% in 2008, this represents the worst income crisis for the sector since Ireland joined the EEC in 1973,” he said.

Mr Walshe said Agriculture Minister Brendan Smith must reflect the dreadful income situation in farming at Cabinet and deliver a properly-funded REPS scheme for farmers leaving REPS 2 and 3.

The IFA leader said Government cuts already imposed across vital farm schemes are now having a major impact on farm income and this will be more severely felt in 2010.

Mr Walshe said the stark reality is that average farm income is now at €13,000, and €16,000 for full-time farmers. The Government proposal to close REPS is simply not a runner as it will collapse the already dire incomes of at least 20,000 dry-stock farmers and leave them with incomes below €10,000, he siad.

Mr Walshe said cuts in vital schemes of €130m have impacted severely on farm income.

He said the minister for finance must support the productive agriculture sector through maintaining funding for vital farm schemes, and ensure that changes to the taxation system are equitably applied and do not undermine the competitiveness of the exporting sectors.

“The proposed carbon tax would further increase farm production costs by about €17.5m a year which is a further 1% cut in national farm income.

“The minister should exempt farming from the tax because no alternative fuels are available, farmers cannot pass on the extra cost to the market, and any further income cut is intolerable. This situation already applies in France where farmers are refunded the cost of the carbon tax there,” he said.

ICMSA president Jackie Cahill said the figures put into context the kind of complaints heard about 6% and 7% cuts in salaries or pension levies.


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