Irish farm income (operating surplus) for 2010 shows an annual
increase of 28.0% before deductions for interest payments and land rental. This
follows a 31.0% decrease in 2009. The IFA (Irish Farmers' Association) said today that Irish farmers depend on EU payments/ subsidies for 94% of their income.
The increase of 28% in 2010 income can be mostly
attributed to an increase of 12.2% in goods output.
Today's figures from the CSO update the preliminary estimates
published in March 2011 using final annual data rather than estimates as used in
the preliminary accounts release.Comparing 2010 with 2009 shows that:
- The value of goods output by the agriculture
sector increased by 12.2% in 2010, or €578.8m;
- The value of cattle output increased by
1.8%, or €26.7m, primarily due to higher prices in 2010;
- The value of pigs output increased by 9.3%,
or €28.4m, primarily due to an increase in volume during 2010;
- The value of milk output increased
by 40.0%, or €439m, due to increases in volume and
price during 2010;
- Total intermediate consumption increased by
0.5%, or €22.4m, in 2010.
The operating surplus for individual EU member states in 2010
are given on page 8 of
the CSO release (pdf). This table shows an increase of 18.1% in operating
surplus between 2009 and 2010 across the 27 member states.
IFA president John Bryan said the final CSO farm
income for 2010 confirms the recovery in agriculture; however average farm
incomes are still only €18,000.
John Bryan said:
“The Single Farm Payment and the farm schemes continue to be crucial for all
farm families and make up a very significant proportion of net farm income.
Teagasc figures show that direct payments made up 94% of farm income last
He said the
income increase indicates a recovery in the sector after two very difficult
years in agriculture, where incomes dropped by over 40%.
“Escalating fuel, feed and fertiliser costs are dampening the recovery and
adding to volatility, which has the potential to undermine production as our
model of family farming cannot absorb the impact of a ‘boom-bust’ cycle.”
The IFA president said, “In the context of the EU budget proposals, and decisions on
the public finances, the figures demonstrate the importance of direct
payments and Government support for schemes in underpinning agriculture’s
contribution to the economy. It is vital that all existing supports are
maintained to achieve the growth and export targets for agriculture and the
food industry set out in Food Harvest 2020 (a Government report).”
We have checked John Bryan's figure of 94% which
suggests that Irish farmers are almost totally dependent on public welfare.
Teagasc, the State agricultural research agency,
carried out a
National Farm Survey in 2005 (pdf).
According to the survey, average farm income from
the market place, excluding direct payments, was €1,360 in 2005 (only 6% of
Family Farm Income - - FFI) compared to €2,010 in 2004 a decline of 32%.
On full-time farms average FFI was €40,483 compared to €30,650 in 2004, an
increase of 32%. The average FFI for part-time farms was €11,372 (€6,407 in
2004), an increase of 77%.
Total direct payments/subsidies per farm increased by 56% between 2004 and 2005.
As a percentage of FFI, direct payments/subsidies were at 94% in 2005 (87% in
Approximately 24% of all farms had an income from farming of less than €6,500.
On an estimated 51% of these farms, the farmer held an off-farm job. For this
latter group, 99% of farms, the farmer and/or spouse had other income from
off-farm employment, pension or social assistance (92% in 2004).
18% of farms had an FFI exceeding €40,000 per farm (10% in 2004), with 12%
having FFI between €25,000 and €40,000 quite similar to figure of 11% in 2004.
Farmers made over €4bn from the national
roadbuilding programme during the boom, never mind a bonanza from other development land sales.
Averages conceal a multitude but the overall
figure of the industry being dependent on handouts, suggests that a minority of
farmers are responsible for most of the output.
The direct payments under the EU's Common
Agricultural Policy are made to farmers even if they only spend their time
watching the grass grow.
According to Savills in 2007, in France, each field changed hands at least
once every 70 years, but in Ireland on average a field changed hands every 555
years! Total annual turnover in Ireland was less than 0.2% of the total acreage.
Countries with sales restrictions, such as France, were cheapest.
Land was about
€6,000 a hectare, compared with almost €60,000 in Ireland - - the most
expensive in Europe in 2007 -- as French land must
be offered first to young local farmers. In the later years of the bubble in Ireland, demand has
been boosted by purchases of “lifestyle farms,, especially within 100 km of
Dublin, coupled with the increasing trend of “off-farm” employment leading to
commercial farmers in effect becoming “hobby farmers.”
It seems strange that with the IFA highlighting
that most farmers dependent on what is effectively dole, that land turnover was
article, Sept 2009:
Ireland: A "smart" economy in food better than