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Get Farm Financially Fit Event

The first Teagasc Get Farm Financially Fit event took place in Carlow today, Monday, 23 March. It was the first in a series of five events taking place this week around the country. Organised by Teagasc with the support of 22 other organisations, the Get Farm Financially Fit campaign was launched by Ann Phelan TD, Minister of State with responsibility for Rural Economic Development.

Speaking at the conference Minister Phelan said: “This Get Farm Financially Fit conference is really important. Being financially fit is one of the most important steps that farmers will do if they are to take up the opportunities that will arise in the future. This campaign will help to develop the discussion on managing the financial aspects of the farm and the farm household. The family farm is vital to the development of the rural economy."

Teagasc Director, Prof Gerry Boyle said that all families have faced the impact of the economic downturn in recent years. Farm families have faced additional challenges with the changes from the reform of the CAP which adjusted the basic payment made to individual farmers. He urged farmers to focus on making their farm business ‘Better before Bigger’ highlighting the importance of achieving efficiency before expanding.

Professor Cathal O’Donoghue, Head of the Teagasc Rural Economy and Development Programme said that the need for farm financial fitness arises for three different reasons – Volatility, Investment and Farm Viability.

  • Volatility of farm incomes was four times higher over the last 5 years than ten years previously.
  • On-farm investment of an estimated €1.5 billion will be required if milk output is to increase by 50 per cent over the next 5 years.
  • Teagasc research shows that over one third of all farm households have farm incomes below the minimum wage, where they do not have an off-farm job. Based on data from the Teagasc National Farm Survey, the proportion of economically viable farms in 2013 was 35%.

At today’s conference farmers were urged to insulate themselves against fluctuating incomes by:

  • Adhering to the strict direct payment scheme guidelines which give them the opportunity to apply successfully for EU direct payments.
  • Targeting farm investment spending to help make the farm labour efficient thereby allowing them to safely and quickly complete farm duties which frees up time for other income generating activities.
  • Adopting the practice of regular cash flow monitoring
  • Being familiar with changes to recent agri-taxation where it is now possible to smooth income over a five year period.

Pictured (L to R): Grainne O’Shea, Teagasc Education Officer; Prof Cathal O’Donoghue, Head, Rural Economy and Development Programme, Teagasc; Ann Phelan, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and Transport, Tourism and Sport with Special Responsibility for Rural Economic Development; Siobhan Kavanagh, Regional Manager for Wicklow/Wexford/Carlow, Teagasc; Prof Gerry Boyle, Teagasc Director and Dr Ailish Byrne, Ulster Bank