The per hectare family farm income on small beef and sheep farms was only 56% of that earned on National Farm Survey (NFS) farms in 2022, a new study from Teagasc found.

The NFS is compiled on farms with an output larger than €8,000, while Teagasc’s new Small Farm Survey (SFS) only includes those below this threshold.

In 2022, SFS farms reported to receive a family farm income of €204/ha, while higher output NFS farms received €361/ha.

Small suckler and sheep farmers see direct payments make up 235% and 157% of their average respective incomes.

This was driven by higher levels of sales, bigger per hectare direct payments and lower costs on a unit output basis on NFS farms.

The analysis included in Teagasc’s study shows that small beef or sheep farms would have lost an average of €2,245 in 2022, in the absence of direct payments.

This equates to a loss of around €450 per suckler cow when direct payments are excluded, as the average small suckler farmer’s herd size comes in at five cows.

However, once direct payments are factored in at an average payment of € 4,883 per small farmer, an average income of €2,638 was left in 2022.

This income was around one-sixth the average family farm income of the beef and sheep farms, included in Teagasc’s National Farm Survey for 2022 for farming one-third of the land.