Farmers' margins in freefall – CSO
The latest figures from the Central Statistics Office show a sharp decline in prices paid to farmers, while cost hikes accelerate.

Pig, milk and cattle prices fell behind last year's levels in August compared with the same month last year, causing a 6.6% year-on-year drop in the overall farmgate value of agricultural products, according to figures released by the CSO this Friday.

Pig prices were 15.3% down on last year, milk prices 11.1% lower and cattle prices 7.3% behind. Milk is reported at real fat and protein content. Only fruit and vegetable growers, including those with potatoes, saw year-on-year prices rise in August.

Inputs dearer

Meanwhile, the cost of farm inputs rose by 5.9% over the previous 12 months, including 1% in the month of August alone.

Feed prices were up 6.6% on August 2017 levels. Cattle feeds jumped by over 2% in the month of August alone. This doesn't account for the fact that many farmers have had to buy more feed as a result of the drought – let alone at higher prices.

Fertilisers increased nearly 10%. Energy costs were 15.2% higher than last year, with a 5% jump in electricity prices in just one month. This was before the latest diesel hikes.

Sprays, vet bills and maintenance costs showed more moderate increases.

The resulting terms of trade measuring the space left for farmers to generate margins declined by 4.6% in August.

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'Strong demand' for milk lorry and feed delivery haulage course
17 October was the deadline for applications for the Dairygold/ CETB Driver Training Programme.

Dairygold has reported strong demand for the Dairygold/ CETB Driver Training Programme, which aims to address the shortage of qualified drivers across the haulage sector in Ireland.

Applications are currently being processed and Dairygold is confident that it will fill the maximum allocation of 20 places for the first professional driver training programme.

The course is due to commence at the end of November and will involve a 15-week training programme, which will be based in Mallow.

“Successful applicants will be allocated to Dairygold’s hauliers across all transport lanes, eg milk collection and feed deliveries.

“The demand and interest in the driver training programme was strong and very positive. A decision on further training programmes will be made in due course,” a spokesperson for Dairygold told the Irish Farmers Journal.

As the dairy industry continues to expand, there is an ever-growing need for skilled and qualified drivers to support the logistics of milk collection and feed delivery, Billy Cronin, head of supply chain at Dairygold, said when the course was announced a number of weeks ago.

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New haulage course for milk lorry and feed delivery drivers

Over 400 farmers travel to fourth tyre recycling centre
The fourth tyre recycling centre was at Gortdrum Mines in Monard, Co Tipperary, on Saturday.

A total of 850 tonnes of tyres were collected from 400 farmers in Tipperary on Saturday. The average volume collected at each of the four bring centres now stands at 1,000t.

While this is the final planned disposal day with the Irish Farm Films Producers Group (IFFPG), farmers have called for further "bring centres".

The IFA is calling for a national scheme to be rolled out so that there is one recycling point opened in each county.

IFA environment chair Thomas Cooney said the association has sought a meeting with Minister for State at the Department of Environment Seán Canney.

“We look forward to working with him and his officials to build on the good work so far and ensure we all play our part in keeping the countryside clean,” Cooney said.

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Equivalent of 350,000 car tyres collected from bring centres

Irish farms among the most valuable in the EU
A combination of high land prices and low debt makes the net value of Irish farms among the highest in Europe.

The average Irish farm has a net value of just under €1m, the fourth highest among the 28 EU member states, a comparison of 2015 farm accounting data by the European Commission has found.

UK farms are the most valuable, with a net worth of €1.8m on average, followed by the Netherlands at €1.6m and farms in Denmark at just over €1m.

By contrast, the average Romanian farm is worth just €33,700, the lowest net worth in the EU.

Irish farms hold on average €1m worth of assets, higher than the EU average of €338,600, but only in sixth position in the EU league. Nearly 90% of those assets are land, with only UK farms locking more of their value into farmland.

Meanwhile Irish farms have very low debt levels, far smaller than the EU average of €54,500. Recent CSO figures show that most farms don't have any debt, and the 35% who do owe an average of €60,000 only. Moreover, Irish farmers have secured long-term loans in much larger proportions than their counterparts in most other EU countries, who are more exposed to the need of constantly refinancing short-term loans.

High solvency

As a result, Irish farms have the lowest liabilities-to-assets ratio, under 3%, described by the Commission as a sign of high solvency. "In the case of Ireland, the low liabilities-to-assets ratio mainly reflects relatively high asset values when compared to low liabilities," analysts wrote.

The high value of Irish farms is not reflected in their income ranking. The average Irish farm's net income was higher than the EU average but ranked in 11th position only, far behind the Dutch leaders.

Irish farmers were also the third most reliant on direct payments for their income, with only Greek and Finnish farmers receiving a larger proportion of their income from the BPS system.

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