IFA President Tim Cullinan said that the overall increase in farm incomes is positive but that it does not take from the ongoing vulnerability of the majority of Irish farmers.
According to the Preliminary Results of the Teagasc National Farm Survey 2020, the national average farm income has increased from €23,600 in 2019 to €25,663 in 2020, representing an increase of 9% in farm incomes.
“Thankfully, COVID-19 had a limited impact on agriculture. However, we still have a situation where the average income for many sectors remains at critically low levels.”
On a sectoral level, average farm incomes remained static or decreased for many sectors in 2020. Tillage incomes fell by 1%, while cattle rearing remained unchanged. Sheep income grew by 24%, cattle other grew by 8%, and dairy experienced growth of 13%.
“It’s important to remember that the average income of suckler farmers, for instance, remains at just over €9,000 while average annual earnings per employee across the entire economy is closer to €40,000, according to the Central Statistics Office.”
Only 34% of the sample farms in the survey remain economically viable. 33% are sustainable, and the final 33% are financially vulnerable.
“52% of farms are relying on off-farm employment as an income stream, and the reality is, without this income, there would be no farming taking place on most of those farms.”
“Direct payments account for 157%, 115%, 103% and 79% of average farm incomes in the cattle rearing, cattle other, sheep and tillage systems, respectively. This emphasises the importance of the ongoing CAP discussions for all of the sectors,” he concluded.