10th June 2021 - Flipbook - Page 20
JULY 22 2021
Lower costs help
N spite of the Covid-19 pandemic, incomes
across the various farm systems in the
Republic of Ireland either held, or improved
in 2020, the Teagasc annual review of farm
incomes has concluded.
The results are published in the Teagasc
National Farm Survey 2020 and are
representative of over 93,000 farms in Ireland.
Production costs were lower as key farm input
prices fell in 2020. It had been initially feared
that Covid-19 would signiﬁcantly damage food
demand, particularly for beef, due to food
service closure and lockdown measures in
Ireland and in overseas markets.
However, this was effectively off-set by
growth in the consumption of food at home.
A Brexit trade deal was eventually agreed, but
the protracted negotiations created additional
uncertainty, impacting beef prices in particular.
In the Spring of 2020 there was some
signiﬁcant, but ultimately short-term disruption to the beef supply chain, which saw
Irish ﬁnished cattle prices decline sharply.
As a result, supplementary support was
provided by the national exchequer under the
Covid-19 State Aid Temporary Framework to
beef farmers who delivered cattle for slaughter
between February 1 and June 12 2020.
Farm output prices
held ﬁrm overall in
2020 and a feared
fall in farm incomes
did not materialise,
although some farm
systems fared better
In spite of these challenges, farm output
prices held ﬁrm overall in 2020 and a feared fall
in farm incomes did not materialise, although
some farm systems fared better than others.
Weather conditions in Ireland were generally
favourable for grass production in 2020, but
difﬁcult planting conditions had a negative
impact on Irish cereal crop production, leading
to a decline in yields.
Covid-19 led to a signiﬁcant reduction in
global economic activity in 2020.
This had a major negative impact on crude
oil and other energy prices, with knock on
consequences for fertiliser prices.
Feed prices were also lower in 2020. The fall
in input prices beneﬁted farmers through a
reduction in their production costs.
These cost reductions were sufﬁcient to boost
the average income in Irish agriculture in 2020.
Across the key outputs categories, lamb
prices performed best, recording a 13 per cent
increase in 2020 compared with 2019.
Beef and Dairy farmers beneﬁted from
marginally higher cattle and milk prices in
Cereal prices were up signiﬁcantly in
2020, reﬂecting market supply and demand
Lower dairy system production costs, coupled
with a further increase in milk output volume
and slightly higher milk prices, resulted in an
average dairy farm income of €74,236 in 2020,
an increase of 13 per cent on the 2019 level.
The cattle rearing system, which comprises
farms that are mainly specialised in suckler
beef production, beneﬁted from marginally
lower production costs in 2020.
However, the value of output and support
payments were also down slightly in 2020.
Overall, the average cattle rearing income
of €9,037 in 2020, was unchanged on the 2019 ALL SET: The Turtle family is looking forward to welcoming virtual visitors to Drumrammer Farm,
Ahoghill, in next week’s Bank of Ireland Virtural Farm Weekend.
In the ‘cattle other’ system, which comprises
mainly of beef ﬁnishing farms, but also includes
farms selling store cattle, production costs also
fell in 2020.
While support payments were also lower, the
value of farm output increased. In combination
this resulted in an average income of €14,813 in
2020 for the cattle other system, an increase of
DRUMRAMMER Farm, Ahoghill, is partTwo full-time staff work alongside the
eight per cent on the 2019 level.
icipating in next week’s Bank of Ireland Turtle family who have owned the farm for
The sheep system also beneﬁted from lower
Virtual Farm Weekend, which is taking the past 91 years and hopefully for many
production costs in 2020 and also experienced
place on Friday, July 30-Sunday, August 1.
more years to come.
a strong increase in the value of farm output,
The free event will see almost 30 farms
They understand the importance of the
which was driven by higher lamb prices.
participating in one of Northern Ireland’s local supply chain, are passionate about the
In common with other drystock systems, on
biggest awareness initiatives, that seeks quality of Northern Ireland farm produce
average the level of direct payments for sheep
to reconnect consumers with farms and and want to encourage everyone to buy
farm was down slightly. The average income on
farm producers, as well as showcasing the local where possible.
sheep farms increased by 24 per cent in 2020
excellent work farmers do in caring for
Victor Turtle and his family – wife
relative to the 2019 level to €18,383 in 2020.
their local environment.
Margaret, daughters Victoria, Megan and
In line with other sectors, input prices for
Although no visitors can attend the son John are all actively involved in the
tillage farms decreased in 2020. However,
farms, online viewers will get to see a farm.
there was also a signiﬁcant increase in cereal
schedule of live activities from 10am-4pm
Victoria said: “We have been participating
prices in 2020, partially offsetting the impact
on Friday, Saturday and Sunday as well as in Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend for
of the drop in crop yields. The average income
enjoying farm videos of each participating a few years and enjoy talking with non-rural
on tillage farms fell by one per cent in 2020 to
farm streamed online across Open Farm families and sharing our work, our farming
Weekend’s social media channels and story and farming activities we take for
Taking account of the income developments
shown at www.openfarmweekend.com
across the various farm systems, the average
Home to 500 cows, the herd is mainly
“We particularly enjoy the schools day as
family farm income rose by nine per cent in
Holstein along with some Jersey, Fleckvieh it’s great to see the faces of the children when
Ireland in 2020 to €25,662.
and Ayrshire cattle, Drumrammer farm is they see cows getting milked robotically.
special in that it uses eight Lely robots to
“We appreciate the virtual format of this
The full Teagasc National Farm Survey
milk its cows, something that the owners year’s Open Farm Weekend, but we are all
2020 is available at https://www.teagasc.
recognise is a bit different, and the children looking forward to welcoming people back
attending past Open Farm Weekends’ agree onto the farm in person next year, all being
is something worth seeing.
Ahoghill dairy farm supporting the
Bank of Ireland Virtual Farm Weekend
Strong leadership needed in agriculture says CAAV
TRONG leaders are needed to
see agriculture through the
major changes that are now
starting, and well-equipped advisers
will be key, according to the Central
Association of Agricultural Valuers
Good businesses are not dependant
on what the Government tells them
to do, but instead on the skills,
investment decisions and innovation
of their owners, says Jeremy Moody,
secretary and adviser to the CAAV.
Speaking at the CAAV conference,
he highlighted the industry potential
if the right people are given access
“There is an important change to
come for small and medium sized
support payments and this will
provide an opportunity for new or
existing land managers to develop
forward-thinking and productive
businesses to combat today’s
Education is a key element of
building a better society and should
be a vital tool in combating climate
change – something valuers are
playing a role in.
Though it’s only possible to make
informed guesses about the future,
the mitigation of and adaption to
climate change should be a key part
of knowledge exchange, said Victoria
Edwards, CEO at the Ernest Cook
“We need to think more on a
community level how we equip
people with the capability to deal
with the future rather than speciﬁc
“In our attempts to tackle climate
change, we need to put efforts into
improving the welfare of the entire
nation and that goes hand in hand
But the industry is already adapting
to combat the climate issue, as Rob
Sanders, co-founder at Glas Data,
Properly collecting and using data
can catch disasters before they
happen – allowing for farmers to be
proactive and not reactive, he said.
It can also save time, as well as
discovering patterns that allow for
“It can improve the ﬁnancial top
and bottom lines,” he said.
However, data needs to be
democratised so it can be of use
to all, otherwise it could become
collecting and sharing for the beneﬁt
of a local community and the wider
environment is the Green Alliance.
Jim Elliott, senior policy adviser
at the Green Alliance, explained
the beneﬁts of collaborative environmental and land management
policies in its Eden Valley Project.
The Alliance is establishing a
system whereby private – and
potentially public – funding can
be directed at environmental improvements undertaken by local
“This also beneﬁts the local
community, and provides farmers
with an alternative income source.
“Beneﬁts could include ﬂood
management, greater biodiversity
and carbon sequestration.
“There is potential for futureprooﬁng environmental payments
and outcomes – linking public money
to the development of the public
economy,” said Mr Elliot.
Proactive land managers are
integral to allowing projects like
this to get off the ground, something
Dafydd Wynne-Finch, estate owner
and farmer in north Wales, is well
With numerous tenants across
his two estates at Pentrefoelas
and Cefnamwlch, Mr WynneFinch is reviewing how things are
done in order to improve the local
“We all know that biodiversity
levels have gone down massively. So
we have been studying how we can
change this over the past 12 months
and are beginning to experiment.”
Mr Wynne-Finch hopes to be
able to increase invertebrates and
subsequently birdlife across his
estates by converting it to regen-
erative farming practices.
“I think we can achieve a lot but
we need good people and for good
people you need good communities,”
A large part of embracing change is
getting the right people; something
which the lump sum exit scheme for
farmers could help with, added Mr
“We must be concerned with
getting the right people onto the
right land, as the top quartile of
cereal farmers are earning £200/ha
and the bottom quartile are losing
over £300/ha without subsidy.”
Farmers need to use the transition
period to ﬁnd opportunities beyond
commodity sales and to look at the
environment as an enterprise, he
said. “It might provide a margin to
“Our role, as valuers, is reviewing
and acting. When a farmer needs
help in the next few years, they need
to know they can get help, guidance
and assistance in making and