The value of direct payments to farmers decreased by 3% in aggregate terms in 2021, according to the latest Teagasc National Farm Survey.

Teagasc said that this was due mainly to the absence of exceptional payments (BEAM and Beef Finisher) that had been paid in each of the previous two years due to Covid-19 and Brexit.

On average, the total direct payment received per farm in 2021, was €18,003.

Although average direct payments are lowest on cattle-rearing farms at €15,125, the reliance on these payments and their overall contribution to Family Farm Income (FFI) was highest at 138% in 2021.

This indicates that the average suckler farm used over €4,000 of those direct payments over the course of the year to cover the farm’s operating loss.

Teagasc report

Teagasc said that reliance on direct payments continued to be comparatively lower on the average sheep and “cattle other farms” in 2021, although both reported a ratio of direct payments to FFI of in excess of 90%, with average direct payments of €18,535 and €15,356 respectively.

The average direct payment received on dairy farms in 2021 remained relatively stable at €21,097.

Direct payments on tillage farms accounted for almost half of average system FFI in 2021, at €27,707, on average.

GLAS payments

Payments from the Green Low-Carbon Agri-Environment Scheme (GLAS) continued to be significant on non-dairy farms in 2021, according to Teagasc.

The average GLAS payment received across systems is reflective of the proportion of participant farms within each system.

Almost 40% of farms participated in GLAS in 2021.

On average, the payment was close to €2,000 on sheep and tillage farms.

The comparative figure on cattle farms was €1,600 €1,700, with the average dairy farm receiving approximately €600 in 2021.

Agri-environmental schemes accounted for 12-14% of total payments, on average, in 2021 on non-dairy farms.

Payments received under the Areas of Natural Constraints scheme were also of more importance on drystock farms, representing approximately 14% of the total payments received.