Tillage income second highest, but 63% is coming from direct payments

Specialist tillage farms had the second highest family farm income of the farming sectors in Ireland in 2017, at just under €37,158. It was second in line to specialist dairy farms which stood at €86,115.

Speaking at the Teagasc National Tillage Conference on Wednesday (January, 30), economist Fiona Thorne put tillage incomes into perspective using data from the Teagasc National Farm Survey (NFS).

Fiona described family farm income as what’s left over at the farm gate to remunerate all the owned resources on the farm – the income that’s there for the individual farmers to take an income for the owned land, labour and capital that’s employed on the farm.

While tillage was in second place, it was well behind the income of dairy. All other sectors surveyed – cattle and sheep – were well below €20,000.

“There has been some recovery in income levels in 2018, on foot of the recovery of prices that we saw at harvest time in 2018, but still tillage farming income is coming in in second place to dairy farms,” Fiona explained.

Reliance on direct payments

Direct payments form a significant part of all sector’s income and Fiona noted that this will be a very important statistic as we go forward into the future post CAP 2020.

Specialist tillage farms have the highest level of direct payments on a €/ha basis.

Specialist tillage farms have the second lowest reliance on direct payments according the the NFS, while specialist dairy farms are the least dependent of the sectors surveyed.

In 2017 direct payments accounted for 63% of specialist tillage farm incomes.

“That moves up and down depending on the year that you’re looking at, but it always tends to be quite a hefty figure that we’re looking at,” Fiona explained.

The specialist tillage farming sector is very reliant on direct payments.

“Even though it’s not as bad as the situation for the drystock sectors €6 out of every €10 still comes from direct payments for the specialist tillage farming sector.”

74% of specialist tillage farms are viable

On a very positive note 74% of specialist tillage farms were deemed to be economically viable. Once again second only to dairy – 85% of dairy farms are described as viable.