In the wake of recent farm income results from Teagasc, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Simon Coveney made the point that family farm income does not equate to farm household income.

He said that on 28% of all farms the farm holder had an off-farm job, and on 51% of farms either the holder and/or spouse had an off-farm job in 2013, both marginally higher than in 2012.

Overall, the Minister noted that it is estimated that on 75% of farms, either the farmer and/or spouse had another source of off-farm income, be it from employment, pensions or other social welfare payments.

Minister Coveney did concede though that the Teagasc data does illustrate that there is a major gap between the incomes on dairy farms and those on drystock farms, with tillage farms in between.

He said however, that it should be borne in mind that almost all dairy farms are classified by Teagasc as full-time farms in terms of the labour input required, whereas most drystock farms are classified as part-time in terms of labour input required.

The Minister stated while a number of drystock farmers will convert to dairy in the post-quota era, he expects that only a relatively small number of larger scale drystock farmers will be in a position to do so.

Minister Coveney was keen to point out that all farms, and in particular lower income drystock farms, benefit significantly from the €1.2 billion in single farm payments paid by my Department each year.

He added that the new Rural Development Programme will also be a vital support to farm families in terms of enhancing the competitiveness of the agri-food sector, managing natural resources in a sustainable manner, and ensuring the balanced development of rural areas.

“The Government has given a clear signal of its commitment to a strategic investment in rural Ireland and the agri-food sector by providing National Exchequer funding to bring the total amount available for RDP schemes to over €4 billion in the period to 2020,” he stressed.