ICSA president Patrick Kent today said that the figures from the Teagasc Annual Review and Outlook are a stark reminder of just how bad things are on cattle and sheep farms.
Mr Kent said:"The shocking statistics are that net margin on suckler farms has gone from minus €3/ha in 2017 to minus €104/ha in 2018. Finishers have seen net margin fall from minus €10/ha in 2017 to minus €72/ha in 2018. Lowland sheep farmers saw a 16% drop in net margin but at least they had a positive net margin due to less exposure to feed costs."
He said:"The fact that prices are falling even though costs are up significantly with feed prices up 5% and feed use up 30% indicates that there is a serious structural problem which is too much production for the available markets."
Mr Kent said:"The logical conclusion is that we must re-visit the strategy of asking farmers to run faster for less and less. Costs are increasing year on year which demonstrates that asking farmers to increase output is totally flawed. Instead we need to look at lower production, less inputs and better marketing of niche products like grass fed suckler beef. The current model is broken for cattle farmers and the forecast that 2019 will only see a minuscule recovery for cattle farmers is proof how we need a complete re-think."
He said:"The figures would be even worse if we accurately assessed the cost of the farmer's own labour and owned land. The key question is who benefits from the increases in our agri food export figures and why is this celebrated by politicians and decision makers when farmers are getting less and less?"
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