The Central Statistics Office (CSO) has today, December 6, released its advanced estimates on the Output, Input and Income for agriculture in 2018.

The figures underline the “exceptionally difficult year experienced by farmers, with the impact of the severe weather conditions,” according to Pat McCormack, president of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association.

Those weather conditions, along with a number of other factors, have resulted in an 11.2% increase in the cost of inputs this year, the CSO data shows.

This, in turn, has resulted in the average surplus between input and output dropping by 16.8%.

“In terms of the financial impact on farmers, the figures are catastrophic, and show the cost of feed increasing by €450 million, and fertiliser by €60 million,” said McCormack.

He added that: “Those figures speak for themselves, and from the perspective of our dairy farmer membership, we have to factor in the €122 million reduction in the value of milk production to get an even more accurate idea of the challenge that Irish farming faced this year.”

However, McCormack said that the estimates have an “underlying message” that’s more important.

Our farming sector is completely exposed to abuse by links further along the supply-chain and to extreme weather, with the result that farm income can fluctuate wildly from year-to-year.

“We desperately and obviously need measures that can address that destructive cycle, and a proven solution, the Farm Management Deposit Scheme, was offered to the Government well in time for Budget 2019 – which they astonishingly overlooked,” argued McCormack.

“This can’t go on, and must lead to radical and long-overdue measures to tackle this completely unsustainable income volatility,” he concluded.