Farm Incomes Increase by 32% in 2011
22 May 2012
Family farm income increased by 32% in 2011, bringing the average income figure for the farming sector to €24,861, according to a preliminary estimate of the Teagasc National Farm Survey results. Income increases were entirely driven by output gains, as production costs increased and the value of direct payments declined marginally.
Speaking at the launch of the results in Dublin, today, Tuesday, 22 May, Dr Thia Hennessy, Head of the Teagasc National Farm Survey said: “2011 was a very good year for farming with incomes reaching unprecedented levels as farmers benefited from the favourable market conditions for dairy and beef products.” She also stressed that “while the increase in farm incomes of 32% in 2011 is substantial, it should be borne in mind that this is likely to represent a short-lived spike in income as indications from global markets are that commodity prices, especially for dairy products, are already on a downward path.”
“The €24,861 is the average income for the full population of approximately 100,000 farms and this conceals the large variation that exists across the different farming enterprises. Income on the more commercial full-time farms, of which there are about 33,000, was approximately €56,000 in 2011” said Brian Moran of Teagasc’s National Farm Survey. Dairy and tillage farms continue to have the highest farm incomes.
Farm households are not insulated from the continued recession in the wider economy as the number of farm households with off-farm income fell for the fourth consecutive year to 48% in 2011 from close to 60% in 2007. Despite the substantial increase in farm incomes in 2011, only one-third of farms are economically viable farm businesses and almost 37,000 farm households are economically vulnerable, i.e. the business is not viable and neither the farmer nor the spouse works outside of the farm.
The average income on dairy farms increased by
38% in 2011, to €69,617. Dairy farmers benefited
from a 15% increase in milk prices and the buoyant
beef market improved calf prices. However, these
income measures do not include the potential
negative effect of a super levy bill. On the back of
strong beef prices in 2011, income on cattle rearing
farms increased by 50% bringing the average income
to almost €11,000. Despite this considerable
improvement in income, there are still a large
number of small, low income cattle farms that
continue to be highly reliant on direct payments.
Lamb prices were also up in 2011 and income on sheep
farms increased to an average of €17,084 in 2011.
While grain markets remained favourable in 2011 and
output increased, this was offset by cost inflation,
especially in fertiliser and energy, resulting in
tillage farm incomes remaining relatively unchanged
from the 2010 level.
Read report - National Farm Survey - 2011 Estimates