New ifac report highlights the top concerns of Irish farmers

Irish farmers are facing another year of uncertainty with input prices, the challenge of succession planning, the nitrates cuts and our weather all weighing heavily on their minds. That is according to the Irish Farm Report 2024 conducted by ifac, Ireland’s farming, food and agribusiness specialist professional services firm.

The report features findings from its annual farmer survey containing the views of 1,048 Irish farmers; the survey took place between October and November 2023.

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. 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.

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.

Ifac’s Irish Farm Report 2024 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.