Agri operating surplus hit with 16.8% decrease in 2018 – CSO

The CSO’s first estimate of operating surplus in agriculture in 2018 shows an annual decrease of 16.8%, down some €580 million from €3.46 billion in 2017 to €2.88 billion this year.

This decrease is in line with the trends shown by other Central Statistics Office (CSO) short-term indicators in agriculture.

The main driver of this change was an increase of €589.7 million (+11.2%) in intermediate consumption.

The main items giving rise to this increase are feeding stuffs and fertilisers, which increased by 34.1% and 11.6% respectively.

An analysis of the results for 2018 compared to 2017 identified a range of changes, according to the CSO.

Despite a marginal increase of 0.6% in the volume of goods produced, the value of goods output at producer prices decreased by €31.6 million – down 0.4% – from €8,056.3 million to €8,024.7 million, according to the stats.

Crops

The volume of crops produced by Irish farmers fell by 5.4%. Increased prices resulted in an overall increase in the value of crop output, which rose by 4.2% from €1,799.9 million to €1,876.0 million – an increase of €76.1 million.

The volume of cereals produced during 2018 fell by 21.9% but increased prices resulted in an overall increase in the value of cereals, up from €237.2m in 2017 to €257.8m in 2018, up 8.7%.

Other crops also saw volume decreased by 6.3%, while the value of these crops increased from €481.6m to €516.8m, an increase of 7.3%.

Dairy

Milk output increased by 1.7% in volume, but falling prices resulted in an overall reduction in its value, which decreased from €2,591.7 million to €2,468.8 million; a fall of €122.9 million, or 4.7%.

Sheep

The volume of sheep produced on Irish farms increased by €70.6 million, up 21.1%, between 2017 and 2018.

Increased prices resulted in a 26.9% increase in value, which rose from €262.6 million in 2017 to €333.2 million in 2018.

Cattle

The value of cattle output increased by €5.7 million, up 0.2% from €2,361.4 million in 2017 to €2,367.1 million in 2018.

Underlying this increase are higher production volumes – up marginally by 0.7%, and lower prices.

Pigs

The value of pig output decreased by 9.8% from €515.6 million to €465.0 million while the volume of pig production rose by 2.9%.

Consumption

Total intermediate consumption was up by €589.7 million, up 11.2%, increasing from €5,252.7 million in 2017 to €5,842.4 million in 2018.

Expenditure on feeding stuffs increased by €452.8m – up by 34.1% – to €1,781.4 million, due primarily to a 27.3% increase in the volume consumed.

Both the volume and price of fertilisers consumed by Irish farmers also increased during 2018.

A volume increase of 7.3% combined with a price increase resulted in an overall increase in expenditure on fertilisers. The cost of these fertilisers increased by €59.7 million to €572.7 million.

Expenditure on energy and lubricants increased by €29.9 million, an increase of 7.7%, rising from €387.7 million in 2017 to €417.6 million in 2018.

The CSO warned that the given figures for 2018 are advance estimates which are provisional and based on the latest available data.

These figures are subject to change once the complete set of data for the full year becomes available.

Updated figures for 2018 will be published in the Preliminary Estimate in March 2019, followed by the Final Estimate in June 2019.