IRELAND - Irish cattle producers would have been better off claiming welfare payments last year rather than fattening cattle, a farm income survey has shown.
Dismal prices sunk further than farm production costs last year for beef finishers as many other agricultural segments saw income lift on the back of lower spend.
The damning comparison made to welfare supports was made by Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association President Patrick Kent, reacting to the Teagasc’s latest figures yesterday.
Cattle finisher incomes dropped 12 per cent, the only loser in the annual Teagasc National Farm Survey.
Other enterprises reported a six per cent average lift in farm income to €26,974. Arable, dairy, sheep and suckler farms all saw better returns than in 2013.
Mr Kent blamed “rapacious retailers” for crucifying farmers and called for a Commission regulator to “monitor the excessive margins being taken at retail level at the expense of farmers”.
However, further down the production line suckler herds saw incomes grow. Weanling prices fared well last year and production costs declined.
Of all systems, suckler farms relied on subsidy the most. Of total income, 151 per cent of income comes from subsidy at an average of a little over €15,000.
Dairy farms, meanwhile, brought in €20,000 in terms of Family Farm Income (FFI), of which 30 per cent was subsidy.
Tillage farms saw the highest FFI at €23,000 at 84 per cent subsidy. Sheep farms averaged €18,000 at 184 per cent subsidy.
Mr Kent highlighted the “stark” contrast of beef and sheep operations with dairy farms, which, when compared fared “pitifully”.