‘70% of dairy farm households in Ireland have an off-farm income source’

There are 17,000 dairy farmers in Ireland today. Meanwhile, there is a considerable gap between the top performers and other farmers in the sector and 70% of dairy farm households have an off-farm income source.

These were the sentiments that were expressed by the author of IFAC’s Irish Farm Report 2019 – Philip O’Connor – who was speaking during the publication’s launch Thursday, June 20.

The report details the views of over 2,133 Irish farmers and contains a comprehensive analysis of 21,755 sets of IFAC farm accounts over a four-year period.

The average herd size in Ireland is 75 cows while 16% of farms have 100 cows or more.

Those gathered, at the launch, heard that overdrafts in the sector increased by 5% in 2018 while creditors increased by 11%. Between 2014 and 2018 profit per hectare rose by 15%.

The launch also heard that in 2018 the total national average profit per hectare excluding EU subsidies across all dairy farmers in IFAC dropped by 25%.

O’Connor also pointed to the average borrowing per farm which, he confirmed, amounts to €116,102.

The average farm size in Ireland increased by 12ha (to 67ha) between 2005 and 2019.

Meanwhile, O’Connor said that average capital investment now stands at €32,940 proceedings.

“92% of dairy farmers said they work full-time on the farm while 70% of dairy farm households have an off-farm income source,” he added, before pointing to the fact that over the past four years dairy farmers invested an average of €32,940 of capital investment in their operations.

“Top performers are spending 25% less to produce a litre of milk; profits dropped on all dairy farms last year because of lower milk price, the fodder crisis and drought.”