A provisional estimate published by DAERA suggests farm incomes in 2023 will be down 44% when compared to the previous year.

The initial calculation of Total Income from Farming (TIFF), which is a measure of the income of all farm families in NI, is estimated at £341m, down 44% from the record high of £609m in 2022.

The 2023 estimate is the lowest total income figure recorded in NI since 2016.

The farm income figures include direct payments, which are estimated at £298m in 2023.

Without that financial support, total farm income would stand at just £43m – it underlines the importance of having that safety net in a difficult year.


Total gross output of NI agriculture is estimated at £2.87bn in 2023, down 7% on 2022 figures.

Dairying is the largest contributor to this total, but lower milk prices resulted in a 21% cut in output from the sector, leaving it at £892m.

The output value of cattle was 6% lower at £568m, mainly due to a 5.8% reduction in the number of animals being slaughtered, with sheep down 0.5% to £109m and field crops falling 21% to £86m.

However, intensive sectors performed relatively strongly in 2023, with poultry up 2% to £380m, eggs up 47% to £223m and pig output rising 15% to £297m.


The total amount spent by farmers on inputs fell slightly in 2023, mainly due to a 43% cut in expenditure on fertiliser, with volumes down 14% and prices falling 33%.

Feedstuffs account for 57% of gross input spend, with expenditure on feed up 5% to £1.24bn.

Farm level

The DAERA publication also includes data on farm level incomes in 2022-2023 and estimates for 2023-2024.

These figures are based on farm accounts from around 200 businesses collected as part of the Farm Business Survey.

The farms in the survey are larger farms, with at least 0.5 of a Standard Labour Requirement. As shown in Table 1, cereal and dairy farms have seen a massive income hit in 2023-2024, with pig units going in the other direction. Across all these farms, incomes are projected to be down 46%.


Commenting on the latest figures, Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) president William Irvine said it highlights the financial pressure farmers are under.

“From bad weather to falling farmgate prices and feedstuff costs rising by 5%, local farmers were getting it financially from every angle and that has not changed in the first half of 2024,” he said.

He also took aim at the results reported by some dairy co-ops in recent weeks, describing the 11% increase in profit (as reported by Dale Farm) as “an absolute kick in the teeth”.

On future changes to farm support, Irvine reminded DAERA of the importance of direct payments and said it would be “detrimental” to the farming industry if this money was switched into environmental-type schemes.