Input costs, succession and the weather top the concerns of Irish farmers
Ifac Irish Farm Report 2024 highlights
94% say there are significant challenges for succession planning
1 in 3 farmers don’t know if they have enough cashflow to pay the bills for the next 6 months
Our report features findings from our annual farmer survey containing the views of 1,048 Irish farmers. For the third year running, concerns about input prices are high. According to the findings, 66% of Irish farmers say input prices are still the biggest concern. And the financial pressure doesn’t stop there – 1 in 3 are unsure if they have sufficient working capital/cash on hand for the next 6 months.
The survey also shows that succession planning is still a major stumbling block for farmers. Almost half of Irish farming families (48%) have yet to identify a successor; an improvement on last year, at 64%, and the first move in the right direction in years. However, 94% still believe there are significant challenges for succession planning, with 1 in 4 naming viability as the biggest obstacle. While succession is certainly more topical, failing to take the first step of identifying a successor or considering an alternative option (e.g. partnership, leasing, or selling up) is preventing farming families from securing the future of their farm and providing sustainable incomes for those retiring and the next generation.
In addition, climate action is at the forefront of farmers minds and they remain committed to taking on projects that benefit the environment. If the opportunity arose, 41% of respondents would lease land to a solar or wind project, yet 48% see financial investment/return as the biggest barrier to considering renewable diversification on farms.
Adverse weather conditions and the impact they had on profitability, particularly in tillage, caused real concern for 2024. Over half of farmers cited the impact of weather as a key concern, an increase of 28% on 2023 findings.
The findings also point to issues with employment and the struggle to find available farm employees. Of the farmers surveyed, 30% say they will not have enough staff throughout 2024 and 4 in 5 of those employing family members on their farms (sole traders) are not aware of the difference in benefits of the PRSI classes, unknowingly preventing their family members from benefiting from the Class A advantages.
Our 2024 Report also features helpful case studies and plenty of advice for Irish farmers on a whole host of topics such as managing successors, the Women Farmers’ Capital Investment Scheme, maximising time as a young farmer, cashflow tips, auto-enrolment (semi-mandatory retirement savings), the potential of solar, transitioning to winter milk, and the Class A PSRI advantages for family members working on the farm.
Other key takeaways include:
With a steady decline over the past 4 years, 16% less farmers plan to be farming in 5 years time compared to in 2021
Almost three-quarters (74%) of tillage farmers are concerned about the weather
1 in 4 do not prepare budgets or forecasts
A quarter of farmers claimed planned farm expenditure was affected by delays in TAMS III approval
90% do not understand the Fair Deal Scheme
1 in 2 have no Will in place, leaving potential beneficiaries exposed to tax issues
1 in 3 have no pension in place
1 in 4 do not have or do not know if they have sufficient life cover (excl. that required for a mortgage)
Nearly one-fifth say there is a lack of interest from the next generation in the farming lifestyle
John Donoghue, our CEO said:
“At ifac, we have been providing expert, tailored advice and a range of supports to help farming families for 49 years. Our teams all over the country are on hand to help farmers manage their finances, enhance efficiencies, and strengthen their businesses. While many farmers are concerned about the things they cannot control, there are still opportunities for many to ease some of their worries about the future by getting the right financial advice about the actions they can take such as identifying a willing successor; putting a Will, sufficient life cover and a pension in place; preparing budgets and managing cashflow. All of which is contained in our sixth Irish Farm Report.
“Also this year, the reduced nitrogen limits on Irish dairy farms to protect water quality and the environment are likely to have far-reaching income effects for Irish dairy farmers. Regardless of the route they take, these farmers need to assess their circumstances and develop a plan that will help them to achieve the environmental objectives and their business objectives.”
“Our report demonstrates the steps that can be taken with the right advice to solve some of the worries farmers have, in particular around succession and cash management.”