Farm incomes: Agri-operating surplus down 16.1% in 2018

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) has released its preliminary figures for the outputs, inputs and incomes in agriculture for 2018.

In the CSO’s second estimate for 2018’s operating surplus, the data shows that this figure has deceased by 16.1% from 2017’s figure – €3,456 million down to €2,901 million.

The CSO points out that this decrease is in line with expected trends, according short-term indicators in agriculture.

The main reason for this decrease was a €507.1 million increase in intermediate consumption; the main expenses that accounted for this increase were feeding stuffs and fertilisers, which increased by 26.8% and 13.5% respectively.

The value of goods output, at producer prices, decreased by €78.7 million from 2017 – a 1% drop – despite the total volume of goods remaining unchanged in 2018.

Cattle and sheep

The volume of cattle output decreased by 3.2% which, when combined with falling prices, resulted in a €100 million fall in the value of cattle since 2017; this represents a decline of 4.2%.

Sheep output volume increased by 13% over the two years, accompanying a 17.4% increase in value – from €262 million to €308 million – as a result of increased price.

Meanwhile, pig output value dropped by 11.2%, from €515 million to €457 million, notwithstanding a small increase of 1.3% in production volume.

Milk and crops

Milk output rose by 4.5% in volume; however, falling prices meant its overall value went in the opposite direction; down 1.6% from €2,591 million to €2,549 million.

The volume of crops produced in Ireland fell by 6.3%, though prices increased, resulting in increased output value – rising 2.8% from €1,799 million to €1,850 million.

The volume of cereal produced also fell, by 21.9% but, again, increased prices bolstered the output value, rising from €237 million to €257 million – an increase by 8.7%.


An increase in feed volume consumed was primarily responsible for the increased expenditure on feed; its volume rose by 19.8% in 2018.

Volume and price of fertiliser also increased in 2018; volume rose by 8.9% which, combined with a higher price, drove up expenditure.

Fertiliser costs rose by €69 million to €582 million in 2018.

Expenditure on energy and lubricants also increased in 2018, rising €34 million last year, a jump of 8.8%.

The CSO will confirm these preliminary figures later this year.