Fertiliser prices

Nitrogen price fell significantly in 2016, reducing what is the biggest cost for dairy and tillage farmers. CAN traded here at under €200/t, a price not seen in some years, and at well under this price on the continent. Across the range of fertiliser mixes prices were down by €60 to €100/t on last year.

Payout of ANC and Basic Payment

The Department of Agriculture pulled out the stops in 2016 and has paid a very high proportion of farmers their ANC and Basic/Greening payments. Of course, some payments remain held up as a result of queries and inspections but far fewer than in 2015.

Diesel prices

Tractor diesel prices fell to 50c/l including VAT and below it in 2016 in a welcome easing of costs on farmers. Those farmers who don’t burn much fuel themselves benefited as diesel is the key cost for contractors and some of the savings were passed back.


The third tranche of the scheme opened for applications in early November and looks set to be oversubscribed. It will bring the number of participating farmers to 50,000 – higher if all applicants are allowed in. The scheme is performing well for the 38,000 farmers who joined GLAS I and II.

Grass growth

Conditions underfoot weren’t always good and were difficult in some areas for much of the year but overall grass growth in 2016 was good, on par with 10-year averages. Farmers on good ground struggled to use it all in early summer once growth took off. Most farmers benefited from reasonable grazing conditions in what was a long back end.


The live trade is needed to keep the dead trade honest. However, exports of adult cattle have been close to non-existent for the past two years and exports of younger cattle were slow in 2016. But finally shipping started to Turkey in the autumn, courtesy of James Mallon of Viastar. 20,000 cattle will have gone there by year end. While the figure is relatively small it was an important boost. As a bonus, the firm also sent a shipment of bulls to Libya.

Sheep welfare scheme

A €25m funding package was confirmed. The scheme will be worth €10 per ewe or €1,300 on a typical sheep farm. Low-interest loans IFA and the other farm organisations have plugged away for years on the high interest rates charged here. The €150m loan scheme will have an interest rate of 2.95% – dramatically lower than farmers can be asked for by co-ops or agri-merchants. To open in early 2017.

Income averaging

Another measure announced in the budget to counter volatility in prices. For farmers who avail of income averaging, there is a new option under which, in a bad year, a farmer can opt to pay tax on actual income rather than on the rolling average arising from income averaging. There was a large number of other positive measures in Budget 2017.