One third of farmers struggled to pay household bills in last year - Poll

Almost one-in-three farmers admitted they have struggled to pay household bills in the past year, while there has also been a considerable increase in the number of those who said their level of farm debt was too high.

One third of farmers struggled to pay household bills in last year - Poll

Almost one-in-three farmers admitted they have struggled to pay household bills in the past year, while there has also been a considerable increase in the number of those who said their level of farm debt was too high.

The Irish Examiner/ICMSA opinion poll shows 30% of those surveyed have struggled with household bills in the past 12 months, including 8% who strongly agreed.

The age group most likely to admit to struggling with domestic costs were those aged 35 to 44, where 40% said they had endured a tough year financially. However, a significant minority of those in other age groups felt the same way, from 24% of those aged under 35 to 31% of those aged over 65.

There was also little difference between the different farming sectors and those with larger land holdings were more inclined to agree that meeting household bills had been tougher over the past year.

A total of 34% of respondents agreed that their level of farm debt is too high - up 13% compared with the percentage who gave the same answer in last year's poll and the highest such figure to date in the years the poll has been conducted.

There was also a corresponding reduction in the percentage of respondents who disagreed with this statement compared with last year's result.

A spokesman for the ICMSA said: " The year-to-date and the winter of 2018 have highlighted yet again the unacceptably precarious nature of farm income.

"Everybody connected with farming will be aware of the unprecedented calls on farmer income this year – a long and hard winter ensured that we had a fodder crisis last spring and the summer drought has left most of the south and east of the country contemplating a second winter in which they are almost certain to incur massive costs in sourcing and buying in fodder and feeds.

"The resultant pressures on cashflow has left thousands of our most commercial and technically progressive farmers completely exposed and completely reliant on a number of self-evident truths being grasped by Government and acted upon."

Don't miss tomorrow's Irish Examiner for further results and analysis from the annual Irish Examiner / ICMSA survey

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