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Nearly two-thirds of Irish farms are not economically viable

The average income on a family farm fell by 15 per cent last year according to the Teagasc National Farm Survey published today.

JUST 37 PER CENT of Irish farms are economically viable farm businesses according to a new survey which has shown that average family farm income fell by 15 per cent less year.

Preliminary estimates published in the Teagasc National Farm Survey today show that the Single Farm Payment, an EU subsidy, remains the most important direct payment to farmers, accounting for 58 per cent of their income.

For cattle farmers it accounts for 80 per cent of their income with dairy farmers less reliant on the payment which makes up 33 per cent of their income.

Thirty-seven per cent of farms are classed as economically viable in that these farms have the capacity to pay family labour at the average agricultural wage and provide five per cent return on non-land assets.

As a result most farms in Ireland are classed in the survey as either sustainable or vulnerable. A sustainable farm is said to be not economically viable but sustainable due to off-farm income.

Farms without off-farm income are classed as vulnerable and there are about 26,000 of these in Ireland.

Production and feed costs all increased last year as a result of the inclement weather with expenditure on feed up by over a quarter.

Average family farm income fell from €30,095 to €25,483, a 15 per cent drop but still more than in 2010. Income on dairy farms fell by fell by 24 per cent last year from €67,847 to €51,648, the largest drop.

Read: Fodder scheme doubled to €2m and extended for two more weeks

Read: 20 per cent increase in dead animals as fodder crisis deepens

Read: CSO farming figures show sheep numbers up 7pc, potatoes down 13.1pc

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