Dairy farm incomes surge by 31% to €64,371 due to better prices

Teagasc national survey identifies wide variation in farm incomes

Dairy farmers saw their incomes surge by 31 per cent last year due to high milk prices and strong growth in output.

The average dairy farm income was €64,371 in 2013, more than double the national farm average of €25,639, according to Teagasc.

A national farm survey by the agriculture and food development authority found a wide variation in farm incomes, with tillage farm incomes averaging €29,907 in 2013, compared to €15,595 for cattle-rearing farms.

The average tillage farm income represented a fall of one-fifth on 2012, while average income for cattle-rearing farms was down 13 per cent.


Income on sheep farms saw the most dramatic decline, falling 39 per cent to €11,160 when compared to 2012.

The income rise on dairy farms came despite an 11 per cent increase in production costs.

Gap Teagasc said that, although the average income on Irish farms overall increased by 1 per cent to €25,639 in 2013, the stability in the average level masks the increasing income gap between dairy and other types of farming.

The Border region had the lowest average farm income at just €14,700, while the south-east had the most profitable farms, with an average income of €38,956 per farm and income per hectare of €711.

Teagasc director Gerry Boyle said the largest increase in average family farm incomes occurred in Cork and Kerry, where they rose by 24 per cent, while incomes in the midlands region, where drystock farming and tillage dominates, slipped by 16 per cent.

Direct payments The average Irish farm received 8 per cent less in direct payments last year than in 2012, due to reductions in single payment receipts, agri-environment payments and the ending of the suckler cow welfare scheme.

"On cattle rearing and sheep farms, direct payments still accounted for significantly more than family farm incomes. This overwhelming dependence of incomes on direct payments highlights the fact that on many Irish farms costs of production far exceed returns from the market," Kevin Hanrahan of Teagasc said.

Direct payments averaged at €18,006 on sheep farms in 2013, comprising 161 per cent of farm income.