The average income on tillage farms fell by 15% in 2019 to €34,437, with lower prices wiping out any benefit of increased crop yields, according to the Teagasc National Farm Survey.
Relative to 2018, weather conditions in Ireland were more favourable for tillage production in 2019. However, market conditions were less favourable, resulting in a fall in cereal prices in 2019.
Although, harvest yields were up substantially in 2019, due to the favourable weather conditions cereal prices fell and, in combination, this resulted in a fall in tillage farm margins in 2019.
In 2019, some 26% of tillage farmers earned a family farm income of more than €50,000. Of these, 6% earned more than €100,000.
The amount of tillage farms earning below €5,000 was 15%, with 18% earning between €5,000 and €10,000 (up nine percentage points).
Just over 11% of tillage farms earned between €10,000 and €20,000 in 2019, with 30% earning between €20,000 and €50,000.
Average gross output increased by 1% on tillage farms in 2019 to €117,687, with Teagasc saying that this was due to a combination of factors, with lower output prices offset by higher yields.
Costs increased on tillage farms in 2019 by 10% to reach €83,250. This was due to both an increase in individual cost items and a slight increase in overall tillage area on survey tillage farms.
“Direct costs increased by 10% year on year, with fertiliser the main component, up 8% to €12,775 on the average tillage farm.
“Expenditure on purchased seed and crop protection increased slightly in 2019, with the former rising by 3% and the latter up by 4% compared to the previous year,” according to the survey.
As on other farms, expenditure on contracting charges rose strongly year on year, up 9% to €8,238 on average.
Teagasc said that as most tillage farms also have a significant cattle enterprise, some will incur expenditure on purchased concentrates. Spending on concentrates decreased in 2019, down 11% to €4,198 on average.
As with other systems in 2019, overhead costs also increased, rising by 14% year on year, with conacre rental costs up by 12% to €5,914 on average.
Meanwhile, costs relating to fuel and electricity also increased, as did those relating to buildings and land improvements.
Data from the 2019 Teagasc National Farm Survey shows that on the average tillage farm, 33ha (over half of all land area) was dedicated to cereals.
The average farm gross margin was €1,236/ha and this included a basic payment of €322. Tillage farms with cattle also benefited from additional support from the Beef Exceptional Aid Measure (BEAM), which contributed over €1,800 to the income of the average tillage farm in 2019.
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