The average family farm income in 2018 declined by 2%, dropping from €29,774 in 2017 to €23,483, according to 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.
According to Teagasc economist Dr. Emma Dillon, dairy farms incurred the largest income reductions in 2018, with average dairy farm income falling by 31% 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, the noted.
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%.
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.
Average family farm income on cattle rearing farms (suckler enterprises) dipped to an estimated €8,318 in 2018 - a reduction of 22% 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.
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%.
In 2018, in general, winter-sown crops fared better in terms of their yield performance than spring-sown crops.
While crop yields on tillage farms were well below average trend yields, farmers benefitted from a large jump in harvest prices in 2018 relative to 2017.
In spite of the low yields, this price increase was large enough to boost the average income in tillage farms in 2018, which was €42,678 - an increase of 18% on the 2017 figure of €36,048.