The CSO’s second estimate of agricultural operating surplus in 2019 shows an annual increase of €195.9m (+6.9%), up from €2,849.2m in 2018 to €3,045.2m.
While some sectors of agriculture performed well, others experienced a difficult year. The value of cattle production fell by €104.4m (-4.6%) while pig producers experienced a very good year, with the value of their output up by €84.4m (+18.4%).
A return to more typical weather in 2019 resulted in a 13.7% fall in the volume of feeding stuffs consumed by Irish farmers. Overall, intermediate consumption costs fell by €218.5m or -3.6% in 2019.
A year-on-year analysis of the 2019 results identified the following main changes:
- Despite an increase of 3.3% in the volume of goods produced, falling prices resulted in the value of goods output at producer prices decreasing by €54.1m (-0.7%) from €8,181.8m to €8,127.6m.
- The volume of crop production increased by 5.2%. However, reduced prices resulted in an overall decrease in the value of crop output by €53.3m (-2.6%) from €2,090.2m to €2,036.8m.
- The volume of cereals produced during 2019 increased by 18.1% but lower prices resulted in an overall fall in the value of cereals, down from €288.4m in 2018 to €260.8m in 2019 (-9.6%).
- Milk production increased by 5.2% in volume, but reduced prices resulted in an overall increase of €44.7m (+1.7%) in the value of milk output, which rose from €2,555.4m to €2,600.1m.
- The value of cattle output decreased by €104.4m (-4.6%) from €2,261.1m in 2018 to €2,156.7m in 2019. This decrease occurred despite volume growth of 2.0%.
- While the volume of sheep production increased by 14.8%, reduced prices resulted in the overall value of sheep output increasing by just €23.6m (+9.3%).
- Despite just a marginal increase in the volume of pigs produced (+0.5%), the value of pig production increased by €84.4m (+18.4%) from €458.6m to €542.9m.
- Intermediate consumption fell by €218.5m (-3.6%), decreasing from €6,001.0m in 2018 to €5,782.5m in 2019.
- Expenditure on feeding stuffs decreased by €184.0m (-10.9%) to €1,496.3m as improved weather conditions contributed to a 13.7% decrease in consumption volumes.
- While the volume of fertilisers consumed by Irish farmers decreased by 7.6% during 2019, price increases meant that the value consumed fell by €3.8m (-0.7%) from €582.1m in 2018 to €578.3m.
President of ICMSA Pat McCormack has noted the significance of the fact that despite Irish farmers managing to produce 3.3% more in volume terms in 2019, they received 0.7% less in value terms for their efforts.
Mr Pat McCormack said that that fact alone highlights the ongoing pressures on farmers attempting to earn a reasonable level of income while being exposed to market forces completely outside of their control.
The ICMSA President said the CSO figures underlined 2019 as a hugely difficult year for the beef sector with the value of output down by €104m compared to 2018 despite a two percent increase in volume and down a massive €206m down on the 2017 level.
The ICMSA President said that if the sustainability agenda is to be delivered then the marketplace must deliver a sustainable price for farmers and on a consistent basis.
He stated: “Policymakers will have to put in place mechanisms to protect farmers from market shocks and the EU market should only allow product that meets its own sustainability standard.
“While operating surplus did improve in 2019, it needs to be recognised that even after this improvement the operating surplus is actually €380m behind the 2017 figures, so even over the short-term we’re dealing with a very significant reduction for farmers”, concluded Mr. McCormack.