Farm incomes are set to increase by 10 per cent ext year. This will be one of the key take home messages from tomorrow’s Teagasc Outlook Conference, taking place in Dublin.

“The actual income figures for 2013 confirms a year-on-year increase of around one per cent,” Teagasc economist Thia Hennessy told AgriLand.

“Strong prices in the dairy and beef finishing sectors more than offset the hike in input costs experienced by all farming businesses during the current year. However, the same cannot be said for cattle rearing and sheep. Farmers within these sectors were hit by a combination of lower farmgate returns and an extreme hike in all input costs. Farmers with breeding livestock were most badly affected by last spring’s fodder crisis and the rise in concentrate feed prices. However, when the performance figures for all the agri sectors are pulled together, the overall picture for the farming industry reflects a very small increase in income levels.”

“The income figures include single farm payment revenues. However, these remained unchanged year-on-year,” she added.

Looking ahead to 2014, the Teagasc economist confirmed the income projections are predicated on a return to normal weather patterns.

“This factor alone should bring about a significant reduction in income costs across all sectors,” Hennessy further explained.

“On that basis we are predicting a strong recovery for suckler farmers and a continuation of the growth seen within the dairy sector. Milk prices are currently at record levels. These returns should ease to some degree as 2014 unfolds.

“But overall we are anticipating a 10 per cent increase in farm incomes across the board next year.”

It is anticipated more than 150 delegates will attend tomorrow’s Outlook Conference.

Teagasc director, Professor Gerry Boyle, will give the keynote address. While the morning session will look at the detailed prospects for 2014, the afternoon speakers will address the challenge of meeting the Harvest 2020 production targets in the most sustainable way forward.

Concern has been expressed about the impact, which future growth in the Irish agri-food sector could have on the environment. The afternoon session takes a medium-term view and examines the environmental impact of Food Harvest 2020 with a special emphasis on measuring and projecting greenhouse gas emissions from the sector and creating farm-level indicators of sustainability. The potential of new technologies to facilitate the sustainable intensification of Irish agriculture will also be discussed.

The Outlook Conference will take place in the Alexander Hotel, Dublin: starting time, 9.30am. AgriLand will be reporting live.

Pictured Teagasc economist Thia Hennessy