In a significant turn of events, 2023 has seen a drastic fall in farm incomes in Ireland, dropping by a remarkable 44% compared to the preceding year, as per a report by Teagasc, the State's agricultural advisory and research institution. This downturn has been most acutely felt in the dairy and tillage sectors.
Steep Decline in Dairy and Tillage Sectors
The dairy sector witnessed a precipitous decline of 60% in income, sinking to €59,000 from a robust €151,000 in 2022, primarily due to a slump in milk prices. Meanwhile, the income of tillage farmers also plummeted by 60%, dwindling from €77,000 to a meagre €30,000. This decline is attributed to the double whammy of poor yield and a reduction in international cereal prices.
A Slight Relief for Cattle, Sheep, and Pig Farmers
While dairy and tillage farmers grapple with their steep losses, cattle, sheep, and pig farmers managed to eke out a marginal increase in their incomes, albeit from a lower baseline.
Teagasc's Outlook for 2024
Despite the overall contraction in farm incomes in 2023, Teagasc economists have a relatively positive outlook for 2024, projecting a 30% increase in income. This upswing is expected to occur with anticipated recoveries in dairy and cereal prices, and further improvements in beef and sheep prices, notwithstanding a predicted fall in pig prices.
Concerns Raised by the Irish Farmers' Association
Tim Cullinan, President of the Irish Farmers' Association (IFA), voiced his concern over the plunging incomes, highlighting the stark disparity between the burgeoning growth in agricultural exports, which touched €19 billion, and the average farmer's income, barely surpassing €25,000, amidst an ongoing cost of living crisis. Cullinan's concerns underline the pressing need for measures to redress this disparity and ensure a fair income for Ireland's farming community.