Renwick to speak at IFA rally in Mullingar

Alan Renwick, Professor of Agriculture and Food Economics at University College Dublin, will be one of the key speakers at the Irish Farmers Association (IFA) Farmers’ Rally to support the campaign to secure strong Government funding for the Rural Development Programme.

The event will take place tomorrow evening (Tuesday) in the Mullingar Park Hotel, Mullingar Co Westmeath. Events get under way  at 5pm.

A recent report compiled by Professor Renwick, on behalf of the IFA, confirms the key role played by the cattle and sheep sectors at the very heart of Irish agriculture.

Significantly, the work shows that for each 10 per cent cut in direct payments, in the absence of an increase in prices or fall in costs, income levels would decline by between 14 per cent and 18 per cent on drystock farms.

Moreover, gross output on farms would have to increase by between eight per cent and 10 per cent in direct response to this cut in support to maintain incomes.

Based on 2011 figures, a 30 per cent cut in direct payments would require a price increase of €0.45/kg liveweight and €0.68/kg carcase weight for R3 steers to maintain the (low) levels of income on cattle farms. A decline in cattle numbers of 25 per cent and sheep numbers of 20 per cent could potentially lead to a decrease of €4.9bn of output.

Significantly, there would be a corresponding loss of between 16,000 and 34,000 jobs, which could add between five per cent and 10 per cent to the numbers unemployed in Ireland.

On average, over the past five years, the output from the cattle and sheep sectors has amounted to €1.9bn, representing a third of all output from agriculture. With higher livestock prices in 2012 these figures reached €2.3bn and 35 per cent respectively.

Exports were equivalent to around 92 per cent and 78 per cent (in terms of volume) of domestic production for beef and sheep meat, respectively in 2012. With an export value of around €2.32bn the sectors accounted for around 35 per cent of the value of food and live animal exports and 25 per cent of all agri-food exports in 2012.

In terms of the wider value of the cattle and sheep sectors to the Irish economy, recent estimates suggest that specialist cattle and sheep farms spend around €2bn on direct inputs and overhead costs. For each €1 of output produced on cattle farms, due to the multiplier effect, an additional €1.49 of output is generated in the Irish economy. For sheep farms, the additional direct and indirect output is €1.33.

IFA President John Bryan will use tomorrow night’s rally to call on Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney to commit to the co-funding of the next Rural Development Programme.