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Weather impact on 2018 farm incomes

Thursday, 30th May, 2019 11:43am
Weather impact on 2018 farm incomes

The survey found that dairy farms incurred the largest income reductions in 2018.

Weather impact on 2018 farm incomes

The survey found that dairy farms incurred the largest income reductions in 2018.

The extent of the financial impact of adverse weather in 2018 on Irish farm incomes is evident from newly released data from the Teagasc National Farm Survey.  Across the board in 2018, farmers struggled to cope with the difficulties presented by severe weather and challenging conditions on farms.


A long winter, followed by an extremely dry summer seriously affected grass growth in 2018.  As a result, on grassland farms (dairy and drystock), there was a substantial increase in the volume of purchased feed and fodder required to make up for the shortfall in grass production, with average feed expenditure up 34 per cent.  The need to increase fodder stocks resulted in increased spending on fertiliser, machinery contracting and fuel.  The combination of these factors pushed production costs strongly upwards.


The extent to which weather had an impact on individual farm incomes in 2018 depended on factors specific to each farm, including local weather, farm type, soil type, stocking rate and the mix of winter and spring crops sown.  Good late season grass growth and an extended silage making campaign helped to avert even steeper increases in production costs late in the year and stemmed the erosion in farm incomes. 


Average family farm income on Cattle Rearing farms dipped to an estimated €8,318 in 2018, a reduction of 22 per cent on the €10,642 in 2017, with a sharp rise in production costs the main driver.  Cattle Other farms, which comprise a range of cattle production systems (e.g. cattle finishers) other than suckler production systems, also experienced an income drop, due to higher input expenditure, but it was not as steep as that which occurred on Cattle Rearing farms.  Average Cattle Other farm income in 2018 was €14,408, a reduction of 11% on the 2017 figure of €16,115.


According to Teagasc economist Dr Emma Dillon, Dairy farms incurred the largest income reductions in 2018, with average dairy farm income falling by 31 per cent to €61,273, compared with the 2017 level of €88,829.  Concentrate feed use increased by almost one-third to over 1,300 kg per cow. 


Sheep farms also experienced an income reduction in 2018, with higher than normal levels of feed and fertiliser use.  Average Sheep farm income fell from €17,357 in 2017 to €13,769 in 2018, a reduction of 21%.


The full preliminary 2018 Family Farm Income figures from the Teagasc National Farm Survey can be viewed at


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