It was no surprise to anyone when Teagasc announced that cereal farmer incomes were down in 2023, with a decline in crop yields and prices.

However, as you dig into the details, some farmers lost money on their crops, while others did better than expected.

Here are some of the facts from the Teagasc Outlook report released at the end of November.

Cereal prices

Decrease in global soft wheat production was offset by an increase in maize production to result in an increase in overall cereal production globally.

With plenty of supply and “flat demand”, according to Teagasc this led to “a significant decrease in cereal prices at harvest 2023”.

Irish harvest prices declined by over 30% in 2023 when compared with 2022.

Crop yields

Crop yields decreased in 2023 when compared with 2022. Spring barley yields in Ireland declined by 21% per hectare. This figure was much larger on some farms. Winter wheat yields were reported to decline by 14% per hectare.

Direct costs

Direct costs of production decreased on tillage farms in 2023. Fertiliser was reported to drop by 15%, while fuel costs dropped by 18%.

On average, across farms direct costs of production were reported to drop by 5%. Overhead costs also decreased in 2023.

Gross margin

As a result of the facts above, gross margins declined on farms.

The gross margin of spring barley declined by €1,070/ha in 2023. Winter barley gross margin declined by €945/ha and winter wheat gross margin decreased by €1,320/ha.

Differences in farms

The average farm, according to Teagasc, is about 70ha in size. However, there is huge variation in the economic performance across farms.

The average cereal farm is estimated to have “returned a positive market-based net margin in 2023”.

However, the bottom one third of farmers had a negative market-based net margin of -€480/ha.

The top one third of farmers are estimated to have returned €725/ha.

The report stated: “Overall, there was a €670 per hectare decrease in the average market-based net margin in 2023, relative to 2022. This can be attributed to significant decreases in cereal price and yields.”


On a positive note, Teagasc has predicted that tillage farm incomes will increase in 2024.