Results from the Teagasc National Farm Survey have indicated that 61% of cattle-rearing farms earned less than €10,000 in 2020.

According to the findings released today, Monday, July 19, there were approximately 25,465 cattle-rearing farms represented in the survey, with an average Family Farm Income (FFI) of €9,037.

The proportion of farms reporting an average FFI of less than €5,000 has increased slightly year-on-year to 38%.

The proportion of farms with an FFI of between €10,000 and €20,000 has increased the most year-on-year, up four percentage points in 2020 to 26%.

However, those farms earning between €20,000 and €50,000 declined by two percentage points to 11%.

Only 2% of cattle-rearing farms earned more than €50,000 in 2020, unchanged from the previous year.

It should be noted that on 42% of ‘cattle other’ farms, the holders also worked off-farm in 2020.

Suckler cow production is the dominant enterprise on these cattle-rearing farms.

Cattle-rearing gross output

The survey found that average gross output on cattle-rearing enterprises decreased by 1% to €36,206, when compared to 2019.

The Teagasc survey indicated there were a number of possible drivers for the reduced gross output figure including mixed fortunes for weanling prices, and an overall reduction in both farm size and livestock units on the average cattle-rearing farm in 2020.

Similarly, there was a reduction in total livestock units on the average cattle-rearing farm in 2020.

Total livestock units were down 4% compared to 2019, to 35 livestock units on average.

This was likely driven by the need for farmers availing of the Beef Exceptional Aid Measure (BEAM) to reduce cattle numbers over the period July 2020 to June 2021.

The average gross margin on a per hectare basis remained flat on cattle-rearing farms in 2020, at €768/ha. This included an average basic payment of €244.

Direct payments

The survey also found that the average amount of direct payments received on cattle-rearing holdings decreased by 2% in 2020, to €14,207.

The most notable reductions were witnessed in the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) and the Green, Low-Carbon, Agri-Environment Scheme (GLAS).

The provision of payments through the Beef Environmental Efficiency Programme – Sucklers (BEEP-S) added on average, about €1,000 to cattle-rearing FFI in 2020.

Meanwhile, farmer participation in the Beef Data Genomics Scheme (BDGP) yielded a similar amount for the average Irish suckler farm.

The survey outlined that the average gross margin on cattle-rearing farms – which was down by 2% – would “clearly have been further reduced in the absence of such payments”.