A challenging year is predicted for Irish farmers, with most sectors predicted to see either an income drop, or at best stability, according to Irish Farmers Association (IFA) president, Joe Healy, commenting on Teagasc's Annual Review and Outlook 2018.
“We have had a number of very difficult years for all sectors. While the past year saw a significant improvement for Irish dairy farmers, it is important that the increase on the dairy side does not overshadow the very real income pressures in other sectors," said Mr Healy.
Mr Healy said the gains in other sectors were negligible, particularly in drystock and tillage, where incomes are still unsustainably low and that the current weather-related fodder crisis is also not yet reflected in Teagasc’s figures.
Mr Healy also stressed the importance of direct payments for the drystock and tillage sectors.
“It is clear that the survival of these sectors is very dependent on direct payments and it underlines the importance of an improved EU budget for direct payments in the context of the upcoming CAP reform. The figures today further support the IFA case for a substantial additional payment for suckler cows.”
The importance of timely payments to all farmers’ cashflow is absolutely vital and delays in the past have caused serious difficulties, especially for low-income farmers, Mr Healy added.
“While it has been a relatively good year for dairying, this came on the back of one of the worst years on record and price volatility remains a huge threat in the context of the significant investment undertaken by dairy farmers.
“It is clear that Irish farmers, faced with increased demands on sustainability, the environment and climate change, especially with the dangers presented by Brexit and a potential Mercosur trade deal, will continue to depend on a strongly-funded Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in the years ahead. Our Government and EU Commissioner Phil Hogan have a key role to play in securing the economic sustainability of all farming sectors in Ireland.”