The results of the survey, as we reported earlier, were released today and showed that farmers income was down by 9% this year.
The president of the ICMSA, Mr. John Comer, said although these numbers were bad the numbers shown for the dairy sector were as bad as what the ICMSA had predicted previously.
The Irish dairy sector has seen farmers income drop by a staggering 17% on numbers form this time last year. Mr comer says these numbers could have in fact not been worse had the Eu not introduced the EU voluntary Reduction scheme last year. He said farmers income has been affected badly by 2015 and 2016’s milk price collapse and as a result farmers had invested approximately €100m less in 2016.
Mr. Comer says this brought a negative effect on the wider rural economy. He also added that the dairy sector was joined by tillage farmers in suffering significant losses/decreases in income.
He said this uncertaintity around income was already deemed a problem by the UCMSA abd says the government must now demand the commission to change the boom/bust models in food markets. He said “Income volatility, as repeatedly highlighted by ICMSA, is one of the major challenges for the farming sector and today’s figures – though widely anticipated – must compel the Government to demand of the Commission that we move away from the boom/bust model of food markets with its wild volatility and total incompatibility with commercial planning and farm stability. When there’s a boom, farmers don’t get the full returns and when there’s a bust, we take the full hit”.
Mr Comer also added that development of dairy farms is no impossible with incomes so low, and predicted their current income could collapse by 20% or 30%. Mr. Comer then called on the Irish Government to grasp the central message of these figures which was that some degree of stability and predictability simply had to be introduced into food markets.
The ICMSA President noted, that the introduction last Autumn of the Voluntary Supply Reduction Scheme had an immediate stabilising effect as it signalled to the market that supply and demand would start moving towards a balance and the milk price recovery started in earnest from that point.
The ICMSA President also noted that no other group in Ireland would even be asked to contemplate a scenario where their income could collapse by almost 20% in a single year.
The president concluded by stating that Brexit should be seen as an additional serious threat to the Agri-food sector. He also highlighted the need to see initiatives in Budget 2018 that will allow farmers to plan for the threats of Brexit.