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Caution urged on farm income forecasts

A GALWAY dairy farmer and IFA representative has sounded a note of caution on projected income figures for next year, as outlined last week in a report by Teagasc economists.

Oranmore farmer and Galway IFA Environment rep., Henry Walsh, said that farming across the board were facing into a lot of ‘head wind’ pressures adding that many sectors were operating off very low income returns.

“Farmers by their very nature tend to be optimistic and they are also very resilient but in terms of costs, pressures from different interest groups, and world markets, the agricultural sector in Ireland is struggling to deliver reasonable levels of income.

“In terms of dairy and food exports, China – with its huge population – has a massive influence on commodity prices. If China sneezes economically, then the rest of the world catches a cold. That’s the way it is,” Henry Walsh told the Farming Tribune.

He said that as regards Teagasc predictions for the dairy incomes in 2024 [projected to rise by 46% as compared to this year], farmers in this sector should exercise caution and certainly should not borrow on the strength of ‘speculative income estimates’.

“Over the past number of years for example, farmers across all sectors have embraced a whole series of environmental measures including slurry storage and spreading methods and better fertiliser and lime utilisation but have been given very little credit for these.

“The reality of farm incomes across the country and especially so in the West of Ireland is that the vast majority of farmers have no choice but to take on another job. They simply could not survive on their farm income,” said Henry Walsh.

One notable cost reduction, he said, would be in relation to fertiliser prices – down approximately 35% from the peak of 2022 following the start of the war in the Ukraine – with urea now selling at around €500 a tonne and compounds at roughly €600 a tonne.

Pictured: Henry Walsh: Be cautious on income predictions. 

 

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