Co. Mayo-based farm machinery parts, spares and tools wholesaler Genfitt has released its annual Knowledge Report for 2022, which surveyed the businesses it works with to gauge the current state of the agriculture sector in Ireland.

The report indicates that there is now lower confidence in the state of the agriculture sector in Ireland compared to last year.

The report was conducted by an independent researcher over a 12-week period from July to September 2022.

The survey involved 164 responding businesses that are customers of Genfitt. Of these, 50% were resellers, 21% were manufacturers, and 29% were dealers. This represented a more even split than previous Genfitt reports, which were on average 80% reseller dominant.

54% of the responding businesses had one to five employees, while 14% had over 20 employees. There were businesses in all four provinces, and 74% of them had been trading over 20 years.

In terms of the individual persons who responded on behalf of these 164 businesses, 60% were owners, around 30% were managers, and about 10% were sales personnel.

When asked to rate the state of the agri-sector out of 10, 44% of respondents rated it seven or eight, compared to 54% last year.

The average rating was seven, as opposed to eight in 2021. The number of respondents rating the sector at four or less increased from 2% last year to 15% this year.

The businesses responding to the report indicated that their own performances have taken a hit so far this year, with 17% of them saying they are performing ahead of last year, compared to 44% in last year’s report which said they were performing ahead of 2020.

The proportion of businesses which now say they are performing behind last year is 39%, compared to just 14% last year.

4% of the respondents said that business performance is “significantly” down versus last year.

30% of businesses said that their spending has increased year-on-year, compared to 36% in 2021. However, due to cost inflation, this should not necessarily be seen as an increase in volume.

Challenges for agri-businesses

The respondents identified the top four challenges for their businesses as price increases of products; availability of products; inflation across the market; and cost increases such as rising fuel prices, energy, and fertilisers.

Businesses were asked rate a list of factors as either very positive, good, no impact, negative, or very negative.

100% of respondents rated pricing and credit as good. 65% rated milk, beef and crop prices as either good or very positive.

However, the vast majority of factors listed were rated negative or very negative.

62% of respondents said the availability of input products was negative. On input prices, 42% of respondents said the issue was negative and 49% said it was very negative.

These issues were reflected in a number of quotes included in the report from various businesses. One business said that rising input prices “mean we need to reduce expenses wherever we can”.

Another said: “Farmers and contractors are having to spend so much more on diesel and fertiliser that they’re sacrificing machinery maintenance.”

Another business highlighted a labour issue, saying: “It’s impossible to get workers in our farm machinery workshop. We have to limit our intake and work longer hours ourselves.”

Stay tuned to Agriland for more on the Genfitt Knowledge Report 2022.