Future of Cork farming uncertain – ifac report

July 1st, 2019 9:40 AM

By Southern Star Team

Cork-based ifac partner Brian Denn.

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Low farm profitability has left many farmers questioning the long-term farm viability of farming.

LOW farm profitability has left many farmers questioning the long-term farm viability of farming, according to the ‘Irish Farm Report 2019,’ published by ifac, the farming, food and agribusiness professional services firm. 

The report includes the views of over 2,133 Irish farmers and a detailed analysis of trends from 21,755 sets of on-farm financial accounts.  

 The key Cork findings in the report include: 

• 42% of all Cork farmers surveyed do not have a clear succession plan in place

• 31% of Cork farmers say their business is not viable enough to encourage the next generation to take it on

• 80% of Cork farmers surveyed have an off farm source of income coming into the household

• While concerned about impact of any new environmental legislation, well over half surveyed were willing to do more with renewable energy on their farms

• 64% of Cork farmers surveyed depend exclusively on family members to help on the farm

• 28% of farm households in Cork have no pension plan for the farmer or their spouse in place

• 57% of Cork farmers said that broadband is essential or important to the daily running of their farm

• 90% of Cork farmers have some form of farm tech deployed

Nationally, the ifac report  found that:

• The average ifac farmer dairy profit dropped by 25% from €1,077/ha (2017) to €804/ha excluding EU subsidies in 2018

• Output amongst top 10% of ifac farmer dairy farms is 38% greater than the ‘average’ dairy farm.

• The top 10% of ifac farmer dairy farms are achieving an extra €1,000/ha in net profit above the ‘average’ performance dairy farm

• The average ifac farmer beef farm lost €116/ha excluding EU Subsidies in 2018.

• The top performing 10% of ifac farmer beef farms made a profit before EU subsidies of €475/ha. Higher output and tight management of spending were the keys to making profits for the ifac farmer top 10%.

• Feed costs were 30% higher for dairy farms and 40% higher for beef farms in 2018 due to the adverse weather conditions in that year.

• The ifac farmer average tillage farm generated a profit of €252/ha excluding EU subsidies in 2018 and the ifac farmer top 10% €466.

Speaking about the publication of ifac’s Irish Farm Report 2019, Brian Denn, partner at ifac Cork, said: ‘Our first ever Irish Farm Report contains some fascinating insights into life as a farmer in Ireland today. The report combines the results of our comprehensive farmer survey carried out earlier this year together with a detailed analysis of emerging trends from the data of 21,755 sets of farm accounts. 

‘We found that while Irish farmers remain largely optimistic about the future, there are many challenges in the sector. 

On a positive note, our Irish Farm Report clearly shows that farmers are ready and willing to embrace environment friendly initiatives, and there are profits to be made in farming subject to the right supports, market stability, financial structure and advice being in place.   

‘At ifac we are working hard to make sure that our people are ready with the kind of advice and supports that farm families need to make good financial decisions and thrive into the future.’

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