The stark reality of the effects of CAP convergence and reducing supports to drystock farms is becoming more evident as year on year suckler farm incomes continue to decline.

The shifting in support payments around sectors has seen the average suckler farmer draw down a basic payment of €249/ha compared to the average dairy farmer draw down a basic payment of €275/ha in 2022.

On a per-hectare basis, suckler farmers’ farm income came in with the lowest figure of €301/ha compared with dairy farmers at €2,332/ha, almost eight times more than suckler farm income.

The squeeze on drystock farmers is also becoming clearer, with suckler farmers in particular facing access issues to land as dairy farmers, ACRES and organic farming all put pressure on suckler numbers.

A dairy farmer earning €150,000/year versus a suckler farmer earning €9,408 is in a lot better position to pay more money for rented land.

The average amount of direct payments received on cattle rearing farms declined by 5% in 2022 and with direct payments making up 152% of income, this reduction in supports is a direct income cut on suckler farmers.

With costs remaining high in 2023, beef price under pressure, and supports continuing to drop, the chances for any income increases for suckler farmers in 2023 remain slim.