Bumper year for farming driven by beef boom - CSO

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Bumper year for farming driven by beef boom - CSO

Beef price protests in Rathdowney and other places seem dominated farming in 2019

The value of farming to Ireland's is set to rise by nearly €430 million to nearly €3.5 billion by the end of Covid-19 hit 2020.

In a year which followed meat factory blockades, the Central Statistics Office's (CSO) first estimate of agricultural operating surplus for 2020 is an expected annual increase of €428.9m (+14.0%) to €3,484.1m.

The CSO says this increase is largely attributable to livestock, which is projected to contribute an additional €388.3m to the value of agricultural output in 2020.

The number crunchers say that with the volume of cattle production forecasted to rise by 9.9%, the net impact when combined with improved prices is a projected rise of €327.6m (+15.2%) in cattle values.

Ireland's official statistics office says pig and sheep values are also expected to grow. The volume of pig production is estimated to rise by 5.8%, and with price increases, the value of pig production is projected to grow from €543.0m to €602.3m, an increase of €59.3m (+10.9%). While the volume of sheep production is expected to fall marginally (-0.7%), improved prices should lead to sheep values rising by €28.0m (+10.7%) to €288.8m.

Despite reduced prices, projected volume growth of 6.8% results in the overall value of poultry increasing by 3.6% to €176.6m.

Horses is the only category of livestock expected to experience shrinking values in 2020, with both reduced volumes (-8.8%) and prices resulting in horse values falling by €32.6m (-12.8%) to €222.9m.

Meanwhile, the value of milk production for 2020 is projected to rise by €98.1m (+3.8%) to €2,699.9m, mainly due to a 3.1% increase in milk volumes.

The CSO says the volume of cereal production is expected to fall by 27.2% in 2020 primarily as a result of reduced yields. With only relatively minor increases in average prices to counteract that decline, the value of cereals is projected to fall by €80.7m (-25.6%) to €234.0m. Despite this, the value of agricultural output at basic prices is expected to rise by €421.1m (+4.9%) to €8,942.8m.

With relatively limited data currently available on input costs, the CSO says only minor changes to intermediate consumption costs are projected for 2020. While the volume of feeding stuffs consumed by Irish farmers is expected to increase by 5.6%, reduced prices will result in their cost growing by €58.1m (+3.9%) to €1,548.0m. With little change in consumption volumes and reduced average prices, the overall cost of fertilisers is forecast to fall by €56.2m (-9.7%) to €522.1m.

With the increased value of agricultural outputs, little projected change to input costs, a two per cent reduction in the standard VAT rate introduced in September 2020 and no change to the flat rate farmers’ VAT compensation scheme, the CSO says projected value of other subsidies less taxes on production is an increase of €46.9m (+2.7%) to €1,784.6m.

The CSO adds that the value of net subsidies, i.e. subsidies less taxes on products plus subsidies less taxes on production, is expected to increase from €1,837.1m to €1,879.3m, an increase of €42.2m (+2.3%).