Average farm income €21,500

Tue, Dec 11, 2012, 00:00

The average farm income was €21,500 this year, which represents a 12 per cent drop on 2011, according to provisional estimates released by Teagasc yesterday.

Last week the Central Statistics Office provisionally estimated that farm incomes had fallen by 10.4 per cent this year.

However, Teagasc predicted a better year ahead next year with farm incomes expected to rise by about 7 per cent if there was no repeat of the bad summer weather.

Teagasc economists said there were very significant variations in farm income around the country this year. Dairy farm income declined by 27 per cent while tillage farmers saw an income drop of almost 20 per cent.

Cattle prices

In contrast, income on beef farms rose marginally as cattle prices remained strong throughout the year.

Principal research officer Trevor Donnellan said the eastern and southern regions – where dairy and tillage farming is prevalent – were particularly badly hit by the wet summer.

Dairy farmers used 20 per cent more concentrate feed on average and therefore saw their milk prices fall by about 9 per cent.

The wet weather also led to a drop in milk production.

The average income on dairy farms is expected to rise by 20 per cent next year, making up for some of this year’s losses.

Teagasc has also forecast a rise of 5 per cent in milk prices next year.

Abnormal weather

The news was also bad for tillage farmers whose yields were severely depressed due to the abnormal weather. Spring barley yields were down by 21 per cent while winter wheat yields fell by 30 per cent.

The outlook for cereal prices depends on global weather conditions over the next six months but Teagasc has predicted a 4 per cent rise in tillage farmer incomes next year.

Pig producers saw feed prices rising by 8 per cent, largely because of the worst drought in the US since the 1950s and a poor soya bean harvest in many parts of South America.

However they also saw pig prices rise by 9 per cent. Teagasc predicted a further 6 per cent pig price rise next year due the strong export market to Russia and Asia and a reduction in pig numbers in Europe and the US .

The income of sheep farmers fell by about 10 per cent as lamb prices fell and feed prices increased. Average farm income for sheep farms is forecast to fall by a further 2 per cent next year. This is partly due to changes in the budget which effectively reduced the rate of subsidy to sheep production.

Teagasc economist Thia Hennessy said 2013 should be a better year overall but farming incomes would not recover to the record levels seen in 2011.