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National Farm Survey 2009

The most recent survey data relating to average farm incomes is the National Farm Survey 2009.  As in previous years family farm income varies significantly depending on the size of farm and system of farming. In 2009, average family farm income was estimated to have fallen by 30% to €11,968. The decline was entirely attributable to a drop of 14% in the value of gross farm output, as total costs actually fell by 7%. Especially hard hit were specialist dairy farms, where incomes dropped by 48% year-on-year to €23,684. Sheep farms were the only ones to record an increase in incomes, albeit of only 1%.

As mentioned above, totals costs actually fell by 7% and helped avoid an even worse year all around. Feedingstuffs, fertilisers and overall energy costs all showed notable decreases in cost.
Direct payments averaged €17,109 per farm, accounting for 36% (up from 31%) of gross output and 143% (up from 103%) of family farm income.


A comparison of farming characteristics and financial return for full-time and part-time farms[2]  is shown in Table 2.2. Average farm income for the 30.4% of farms classified as full-time was €24,214 in 2009, a decrease of 35%. Full-time farms are the larger more viable farms, of which, 60% are involved in dairying, 32% in other livestock system and 8% in tillage. On 14% of full-time farms, the farmer had an off-farm job, whilst on 43% of full-time farms the spouse had an off-farm job.

For the roughly 70% of farms classified as part-time the average family farm income was €6,611 (down from €7,580) and 89% were involved in drystock production. These farms were particularly reliant on direct payments to cover production costs with average payments of €12,077 accounting for 183% of family farm income.  On 54% of part-time farms either the holder or spouse had off-farm employment - down from 56% in 2008 and 60% in 2007.  Nearly all (96%) part-time farms had off-farm income from one of employment, pensions or social assistance.

[2]In the NFS full-time and part-time farms are based on labour input, with farms requiring 0.75% of a standard labour input being defined as full-time and those requiring less as part-time.