31 October 1997

Farm incomes lag in Ireland

IRISH farm income has failed to match the record growth seen in most sectors of the countrys economy this year, with a 6% drop expected.

According to the Irish Farmers Association, incomes in other sectors were increasing well ahead of inflation and employment was growing rapidly. In contrast, farm incomes were falling further behind. And the EU Commissions recent CAP reform proposals had added to the uncertainty about the future.

IFA chief economist, Con Lucey, who prepared the income estimates, said cattle prices over the year had fallen by 4% which followed the 14% drop last year. Milk income was down about 9%, mainly due to the strong currency, and pig meat prices fell by a similar amount.

Sheep returns were reasonably favourable, but incomes would suffer because of the fall of up to 30% in the ewe premium, he said.

"1997 was nothing short of disastrous for grain growers. Cereal prices are down by almost 20% this year and have fallen by close to 30% in two years," Mr Lucey said.