It’s not often we see a Teagasc Outlook conference that has positive messaging for so many farming sectors as we look to 2024.

The positivity is mainly driven by the fact that the experts are comparing to a relatively poor 2023, so the only way is up for 2024, and with it comes a hope that input prices will fall across the board.

The big predictions are that energy and fertiliser prices will fall, allowing margins to improve for cereal and grassland farmers.

Of course, all this is dependent on a normal weather year, and we know that is becoming more and more of a challenge.

The Teagasc scientists are predicting better margins for cattle, sheep, dairy, and cereal farmers in 2024. Income for pig farmers is predicted to drop 12% as pig price has readjusted downwards in the last six weeks from a high close to €2.50/kg in summer 2023.

Dairy farmer income is expected to be up 46% relative to 2023 as price increases and costs fall.


The Teagasc milk price predictions are cautious, given supply predictions for 2024 and current market sentiment as we come to the end of 2023. Suckler and sheep margins are also predicted to rise between 8% and 12% in 2024.

Average figures for these sectors are all well and good, but depending on when you sell stock, the outcome can be very different.

The big mover for 2024 is predicted to be a 67% rise in cereal incomes due to a combination of slightly higher cereal prices and fertiliser prices down significantly.

Weather plays such a crucial role in tillage that any predictions can be wide of the mark and again, as we have seen in 2023, individual farmers can be completely exposed depending on local weather and ground conditions.

While pig incomes are expected to fall, pig farmers had a relatively good 2023 and 2024 is expected to be profitable right through the year.


Farmers will be very thankful for the positive predictions on average, but at individual farm level there will still be many challenges.

The confirmation late last week of the upper 220kg/ha stocking rate on derogation farms is likely to impact hard on many dairy and beef farms stocked close to the upper limits. For many this will mean reduced sales and margins.

As we have discussed numerous times, this will also impact much more widely, with land demand and rental prices set to increase further as farmers impacted look to the land market to try and solve a paper stocking rate challenge.

Wet weather is already impacting tillage farms, with many waterlogged fields of winter cereals and reduced winter planting.

Depending on enterprise and when you purchase inputs within sectors, you may not benefit as much from the predicted reductions in inputs such as fertiliser and energy.

Global uncertainty

Also at a macro level, there are still many uncertainties. Gas prices in Europe are still twice what they were in 2021, and five times higher than US prices.

The ten year timeline presented by Trevor Donnellan clearly shows how exposed Europe has become on energy.

Oil prices are predicted at US$80/barrel, but with a conflict ongoing in two regions, anything could happen.

Concerns over the performance of the UK economy, which is a key market for both timber and lamb sales, could potentially pull prices down for both forestry and sheep farmers.

As the researchers explained, like all analysis the outcomes are only as good as the assumptions used. However, the professionalism of the presentations and analysis this week by the Teagasc experts was excellent, and farmers will take a better 2024 income forecast without any hesitation.