Joe Healy, president of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA), has said that it is “more critical than ever” that the Government “step up” and provide certainty to farmers.

His comments come after figures, released today, December 4, which show that several sectors have seen significant drops in income in 2018.

The ‘Annual Review and Outlook 2019′ report, compiled by Teagasc, shows that farmers’ average income was down 15%  compared to last year, mainly on account of the extreme weather conditions we’ve had this year.

Farming, like any other large sector, needs a certain level of certainty.

The report said that there will be some recovery in 2019, but Healy pointed out that this is dependent on uncontrollable factors, not least of all the weather.

“While factors such as the weather are beyond our control, there are other ways that farming and the agriculture sector can be protected,” he argued.

Specifically, he said that direct payments to farmers – which account for up to 115% of average farm income in certain sectors – must be protected.

Healy added that maintaining direct payments was a “minimum” step.

“The medium-term outlook for agriculture is very uncertain,” said the IFA president, adding that: “2019 is a critical year, given the decisions that will be made on CAP [Common Agricultural Policy] post 2020.

“Farmers need an increase in the CAP Budget to at least keep pace with inflation, and to support farmers, in order to provide some small level of security,” concluded Healy.