‘Budget 2020 must fix farm income volatility’ – ICMSA

Calls have been made for the Government to solve the issue of farm income volatility in the next budget later this year.

The Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA) was responding to figures, released today by Teagasc, that show in 2018 average farm incomes were down considerably in most sectors.

The dairy sector was particularly hit by low incomes, falling 31% last year compared to the 2017 figure.

In its National Farm Survey 2018, Teagasc highlighted the extreme weather conditions of the early part of last year as the main driver for lower incomes, as a result of the increased farm input costs, particularly for feed and fertiliser.

“The reality for many farmers is that a large portion of these bills remain outstanding and will have to be paid during 2019,” the ICMSA president, Pat McCormack, said.

“2018 has yet again shown the volatile nature of farm incomes and this is an issue that the Government will simply have to address as part of Budget 2020 in terms of income volatility measures such as the Farm Management Deposit Scheme as proposed by the ICMSA,” he said.

McCormack also outlined the current dependency on direct payments, highlighting the importance of the negotiations on the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reforms.

With CAP negotiations likely to step up a gear following the European Parliament elections, the survey also shows the huge importance of direct payments to all sectors of farming and the priority must be to at least maintain our current allocation.

The Teagasc figures reveal that the use of concentrate feed on dairy farms increased by one-third to over €1,300kg/cow in 2018.

Average income on dairy farms fell to €61,273 last year – compared with a record figure of €88,829 in 2017.