Agriculture

Tipperary farm leader reveals farmers hit by €500m hike in costs in 2018

ICMSA president says figures are 'catastrophic'

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Tipperary farm leader reveals farmers hit by €500m hike in costs in 2018

ICMSA president Pat McCormack: farm costs rose by €500m

Costs borne by Irish farmers last year went up by more than €500m, according to ICMSA president Pat McCormack.

Commenting on the final estimate on the CSO’s Output, Input and Income in Agriculture for 2018, he said that the 16.8 percent reduction in operating surplus highlighted the exceptionally difficult year experienced by farmers with the impact of the severe weather conditions resulting in a 13% increase in the cost of inputs.

“In terms of financial impact on farmers, the figures are catastrophic and show the cost of feed increasing by €355m, forage costs by almost €200m and fertiliser by almost €70m giving an accurate idea of the challenge that Irish farming faced in 2018,” said Pat McCormack.”

He sad that the figures were hugely significant, but it was the underlying message that was more important.

“Our farming sector has always completely exposed to abuse by links further along the supply chain and to extreme weather events, but the fact is that extreme weather events are becoming more frequent and more extreme and we still see very little sign of any willingness to stop the abuse of farmers by the other links in the food supply chain,” said the ICMSA president.

He said that the result of this was a situation where farm incomes can fluctuate wildly from year-to-year.

“We desperately and obviously need measures that can address that destructive cycle and a proven solution - the Farm Management Deposit Scheme - needs to be introduced as a matter of urgency,” he said.

The Tipperary-based farmer said that farmers seemed to have been abandoned to wild price and income volatility on both the input and output sides with only slow and tentative moves to stop their already low margins being eroded further by both processing and retail corporations.

“It must be obvious to everyone looking at Irish farmers having to pay more than half-a-billion euro in extra costs in just one year that this can’t go on, and must lead to radical and long-overdue measures to tackle this completely unsustainable income and input volatility,” said Mr McCormack.

He confirmed that ICMSA again called for the introduction of the Farm Management Deposit Scheme at last weeks’ National Economic Dialogue and, in the context of the potential threats from Brexit, Mercusor and challenge necessitated by climate change, the case for such a scheme had never been stronger and must be part of Budget 2020.