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Milking it

The average Irish dairy farmer earned €52,000 last year but their colleagues aren't happy

It is claimed sheep farmers can earn as little as €16,000 a year.

IRISH DAIRY FARMERS are earning an average of €52,000 a year, according to a survey carried out by semi-state agri-food body Teagasc.

While the figures make for decent reading for a large number of Ireland’s farmers, they have caused frustration among those who work in different sectors.

Irish Cattle & Sheep Farmers’ Association president Patrick Kent said the people he represents were let down by the EU, which he claimed prioritised the dairy farmers over others.

He said: “On a per-hectare basis, the income of €924 for dairying was twice the income for tillage and beef farmers, two and half times better than suckling and three times the sheep income per hectare.

“The figures call into question the prioritisation of dairying by Brussels who jumped hoops to provide crisis funding for dairying while remaining laid back about the struggles faced by cattle, sheep and tillage farmers.

“With the recovery in milk price, it is likely that income figures for dairying will power ahead in 2017 again but the cattle, sheep and tillage sectors have no prospect of significant improvement.

Annual incomes averaging as low as €16,011 for sheep farmers and a paltry €12,908 for suckler farmers offer evidence of the stark reality for the majority of our cattle and sheep farmers.

Kent said that farmers are getting too small a share of the profit margins from the food chain. He added that now, more than ever, there is “no room for processors and retailers to keep squeezing cattle and sheep producers on price when the stark reality is the vast majority of such farms would generate no income without direct EU supports”.

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