Dairy farmers invested over €400 million in 2017

It was revealed this morning that dairy farmers invested over €400 million in 2017; representing 50% of overall investment.

This is despite the fact that the 15,639 dairy farms in Ireland make up just less than 20% of the total number of farms located across the country.

This news came to light as the preliminary results of the Teagasc National Farm Survey (NFS) for 2017 were announced this morning (Tuesday, May 22).

In total some €806 million was invested by farmers last year; a figure that was up 17% on the previous year.

With regards to 2017, the average investment on dairy farms was €25,100; this compared to an average across all farms of €9,600. But it represented a significant jump on the investment witnessed in 2016 on dairy farms, which stood at €16,400.

Image source: Teagasc NFS

Delving deeper into what investments farmers were making, the survey found that – across all farms – 35% were power machinery investment; this refers to investments in tractors, forage harvesters and combine harvesters etc.

Other machinery investment accounted for 23%, while buildings investment made up 33% of the total investment made across all farm types.

Finally, land improvement investment made up the remaining 8%.

Image source: Teagasc NFS

Farm-related debts

Teagasc’s National Farm Survey for 2017 also found that 64% of farms had no farm-related debts last year, while the overall debt level was found to have reduced slightly – by 4% compared to 2016 levels.

A total of 60% of dairy farms had debt last year; but borrowings on dairy farms declined by 2% in 2017, despite a 53% increase in investment, Teagasc explained. This would indicate that some investment was financed internally, it added.

Image source: Teagasc NFS

But the preliminary results of the survey also highlighted that although dairy farms have the highest level of borrowings, their debt-to-income ratio is lowest at 1.05.

This is compared to 1.82 on cattle other farms, 1.57 on sheep farms and 1.38 on cattle rearing farms. Tillage farms compare relatively favourably at 1.13, Teagasc stated.

Image source: Teagasc NFS