IFA president Tim Cullinan said that the overall increase in farm incomes shown in the Teagsc national farm survey (NFS) was positive, but the income gap between sectors showed that the majority of farmers were still vulnerable in terms of their incomes.

The survey showed that over 60% of farmers earned less than €10,000/year.

“It’s important to remember that the average income of suckler farmers, for instance, remains at just over €9,000, while average annual earnings per employee across the entire economy is closer to €40,000, according to the Central Statistics Office,” he said.

“52% of farms are relying on off-farm employment as an income stream and the reality is, without this income, there would be no farming taking place on most of those farms.

“Direct payments account for 157%, 115%, 103% and 79% of average farm incomes in the cattle rearing, cattle other, sheep and tillage systems respectively.

"This emphasises the importance of the ongoing CAP discussions for all of the sectors,” he concluded.