Family dairy farm income across Ireland is estimated to have increased by 15 per cent in 2013, from an average of €50,000 in 2012 to approximately €58,000 in 2013, a Teagasc economic conference has heard this morning.

In addition, the average dairy farm received a substantial subsidy payment worth in the order of €21,000 in 2013 and Irish milk prices are estimated to have averaged 38c per litre in 2013, a 17 per cent increase relative to the 2012 level.

According to economists at Teagasc, adverse weather meant that Irish milk production was more than two per cent under quota in the 2012/13 quota year. However, Irish milk production is estimated to have increased by about four per cent in the 2013 calendar year, due to high milk prices and favourable mid and late season production conditions, it added.

In terms of feed prices for this sector, it found these increased by 10 per cent in 2013.

“Due to a shortage of both grass and silage, feed use increased by 10 per cent in 2013 relative to the already elevated levels recorded in 2012. This is estimated to have resulted in a 21 per cent increase in feed expenditure in 2013.”

With regard to fertiliser prices in the dairy sector, the economists noted these were relatively unchanged in 2013, but fertiliser use rose considerably, as a reaction to the Fodder Crisis and a desire to rebuild fodder stocks.

“Nitrogen sales increased by 20 per cent in volume terms in 2013, with even larger increases in the case of phosphorus and potassium. Fertiliser expenditure is estimated to have increase by 23 per cent in 2013,” it noted.

In addition, the Teagasc economists found that due mainly to the large increase in feed and fertiliser spending in 2013, milk production costs rose 10 per cent in 2013, so that the average production costs reached over 28 cent per litre.

“Higher farm milk prices far outweighed the rise in input expenditure, resulting in an estimated 38 per cent increase in net margin per litre of milk produced in 2013 relative to 2012.”

More than 200 people are attending Teagasc 2014 Economic Outlook conference in Dublin today.