BSE may hit rise in farm income

 

The BSE problems on mainland Europe have undermined prospects for farming next year, but it would be impossible to predict the outcome, the Teagasc Agri-Food Economics Conference in Dublin was told yesterday, writes Sean MacConnell.

Mr Liam Connolly, of the Agriculture and Food Development Authority, said that up to six weeks ago farmers could have anticipated a modest income rise next year based on estimates of this year's income.

The Central Statistics Office estimate of an overall 9 per cent rise in farm incomes this year, which were issued yesterday, had reflected this, he said.

Mr Connolly noted that Teagasc analysts had said beef had performed best this year with an increase in margins of 24 per cent, in contrast to a drop of more than 30 per cent in 1999. Margins in dairy farming last year had increased by about 6 per cent while sheep margins were up by around 7 per cent and pig production had begun to recover from the serious losses of the previous two years. Tillage margins were up 10 per cent. In a comment on the CSO estimates, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, Mr Walsh, said news of the income increase this year was to be welcomed.