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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