• Development of a Strategic Approach for a Single EU Beef Market: An Evaluation of Changes in the EU Intervention system and Labelling Regulations in Relation to Irish Cattle Prices.

      O'Connell, John; Dunne, Liam; Shanahan, Ultan (Teagasc, 01/01/2003)
      The intervention system for beef in the EU has undergone major changes since its inception. These changes were introduced because of changing circumstances in the EU beef market and because of cost factors and inefficiencies associated with and arising from the intervention system itself. While justified from these perspectives it can be said that from the perspective of beef producers the system has changed from being a mechanism which aimed at and operated to achieve a producer Guide Price which in turn was defined as “……..the price which it is hoped to attain on average on the Community market for all the quantities marketed during a given marketing year” (Com 370, July 1976) to one which has abandoned all efforts at achieving a desirable producer price and which provides at best very short term stabilisation of price at its market level. The aim of this paper is to trace the major changes which have occurred to the intervention system and the concomitant price achievement of beef in general in the EU and especially that of Irish beef. These changes together with other market and policy factors occurring on and since 1996 have combined to give a historically poor price performance for Irish beef which despite the growing importance of direct payments is still of major significance in the incomes and welfare of beef producers.
    • Spatial Modelling for Rural Policy Analysis

      Hynes, Stephen (Teagasc, 01/01/2006)
      The objective of the project was to provide the diverse group of interest groups associated with the agri-food sector (farmers, policy makers etc.) with a microsimulation tool for the analysis of the relationships among regions and localities. This tool would also be able to project the spatial implications of economic development and policy change in rural areas. To this end the SMILE (Simulation Model for the Irish Local Economy) model was developed. SMILE is a static and dynamic spatial microsimulation model designed to analyse the impact of policy change and economic development on rural areas in Ireland. The model developed provides projection for population growth, spatial information on incomes and models farm activity at the electoral division (ED) level.The sub-projects funded under this project were concerned with the simulation, development and enhancement of a spatial econometric model of the Irish rural economy which would compliment the existing econometric models used in Teagasc; focusing on the agriculture and food sectors, previously constructed under the auspices of the FAPRI-Ireland Partnership by staff at Teagasc and NUI Maynooth. That partnership has produced an econometric model of the entire agri-food sector that has been simulated to produce estimates of the impact of policy changes on commodity prices, agricultural sector variables,food industry production, consumption of food both in Ireland and the EU and trade in food products, as well as costs, revenue and income of the agricultural sector. The SMILE model was built to compliment these other econometric models by using an holistic modelling approach that takes into account the spatial difference of rural populations, rural labour force and rural income.
    • An Examination of the contribution of off-farm income to the viability and sustainability of farm households and the productivity of farm businesses

      Behan, Jasmina; Carroll, James; Hennessy, Thia; Keeney, Mary; Newman, Carol; O'Brien, Mark; Thorne, Fiona; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland (Teagasc, 01/01/2007)
      The number of farm households in Ireland participating in the off-farm labour market has increased significantly in the last decade. According to the National Farm Survey (NFS), the number of farm households where the spouse and/or operator is working off-farm has increased from 37 per cent in 1995 to 58 per cent in 2007. The important contribution of non-farm income to viability of farm households is highlighted in the results of the Agri-Vision 2015 report, which concluded that the number of economically viable farm businesses is in decline and that a significant proportion of farm households are sustainable only because of the presence of off-farm income. Research conducted by Hennessy (2004) demonstrated that approximately 40 percent of farm households have an off-farm income and that almost 30 percent of the farming population are only sustainable because of off-farm income. Clearly, the future viability and sustainability of a large number of farm households depends on the ability of farmers and their spouses’ to secure and retain gainful off-farm employment. The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (DAFF) have recognised the importance of off-farm income to the sector and they have recommended that future policies focus on farm household viability in all its dimensions, including farm and off-farm income sources (2000).
    • Estimation and projection of costs and margins in crop enterprises in the Republic of Ireland

      Thorne, Fiona (Teagasc, 01/01/2007)
      This project reports on the farm level crop economics research conducted in the Rural Economy Research Centre (RERC), Teagasc during the period 2003-2006. The research conducted made current estimates and one year ahead forecasts for margins in each of the major crop enterprises in the Republic of Ireland. The enterprise specific information was based on information from the Teagasc National Farm Survey (NFS), supplemented by projections of price, cost and policy information from a variety of other sources. Yield projections were based on past trends and incorporate estimates of expected variability. In addition, the distribution of profitability amongst the population of crop farms has been examined to gain further insights into the farm level situation and outlook for tillage farms based on the results from the NFS data.
    • Examining the Relative Competitiveness of Irish Agriculture (1996 – 2003/4)

      Thorne, Fiona (Teagasc, 01/01/2007)
      This paper examines the competitiveness of Irish agriculture compared to that of other EU and non-EU countries. The analysis was based on two main data sources – the Farm Accountancy Data Network (FADN) for years 1996-2003 and the International Farm Comparisons Network (IFCN) for 2003 for beef production and for 2004 for milk production. Results showed that the Irish competitive position compared to other EU and non-EU countries was positive when total cash costs were considered indicating a positive outlook for Irish milk production in the short to medium term. However, as the opportunity costs of owned resources are not included in ‘cash cost’ calculations, total economic costs which include imputed charges for owned resources were considered to examine the longer term outlook for the competitiveness of the sector. Using this measure, the competitive ranking for Irish agriculture slipped relative to the other countries. It was found that the main reason for the relatively high economic costs on Irish farms was due to the high imputed land and labour costs. These findings could be considered as a warning signal for the future competitive performance for the average sized Irish farm. However, based on FADN data the competitive position of ‘larger’ Irish dairy farms (in the 50-99 dairy cow size category) did manage to maintain their competitive position within Europe even when total economic costs were considered. Hence, it could be concluded that part of the explanation of the deterioration of competitive ranking for the average Irish dairy farm when total economic costs are considered relates to the relatively low scale of primary agricultural activity in Ireland during this period.
    • WEMAC Project

      Donnellan, Trevor; Hanrahan, Kevin; European Commission (Teagasc, 01/01/2009)
      The WEMAC (World Econometric Model of Agricultural Crops) model is a model which has its origins at the French Research Institute INRA. Over the period 2006 to 2009 INRA, Teagasc and other partners worked on further developing the model as part of an EU Framework Project. This report details some of the project main results.
    • The Potential of Farm Partnerships to Facilitate Farm Succession and Inheritance

      Leonard, Brian; Mahon, Marie; Kinsella, Anne; O'Donoghue, Cathal; Farrell, Maura; Curran, Thomas; Hennessy, Thia; Royal Dublin Society; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Institute of Agricultural Management, 01/05/2017)
      The rising average age of farmers and low level of young farmer entry is viewed as problematic on a global scale and farm partnerships are presented as a possible means by which farm succession and inheritance could take place in a timely manner. Using the example of Ireland, this research investigates a recent proposal by government to introduce a tax relief as an incentive for farmers to part take in farm partnerships. In this discussion, a hypothetical microsimulation model is used to investigate the possible outcomes of such a tax relief, with scenarios created to examine how this would materialise. It draws on the Teagasc National Farm Survey data which provides Irish data to the Farm Accountancy Data Network in the European Commission. The findings illustrate that even with a tax relief, cattle rearing farms would struggle to reap any economic benefit from entering a farm partnership, while their dairy counterparts would receive more value from tax reliefs. Results also indicate that farm viability will play a large role in whether or not collaborative farming is viewed as an option for farmers.
    • Modelling the Effect of Policy Reform on Structural Change in Irish Farming

      Hennessy, Thia (Teagasc, 01/07/2007)
      The Mid Term Review (MTR) of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) has allowed for the decoupling of all direct payments from production from 2005 onwards; until then, most direct payments were coupled to production, requiring farmers to produce specific products in order to claim support. After decoupling, farmers will receive a payment regardless of production as long as their farm land is maintained in accordance with good agricultural practices. Direct payments to farmers have been an integral part of the CAP since the 1992 Mac Sharry reforms. Throughout the 1990s, market prices for farm produce have declined generally in line with policy while costs of production have continued to increase. Meanwhile, direct payments increased in value, increasing farmers’ reliance on this source of income. Furthermore, farmers adapted farming practices to maximise their receipt of direct payments, leading to the culture of ‘farming the subsidy’. By 1997, on cattle and tillage farms in Ireland 100 per cent of family farm income was derived from direct payments, meaning that on average the market-based revenue was insufficient to cover total costs.
    • Improving Public Access to the Irish Countryside for Walking – Investigation of Supply and Demand Side Factors

      Buckley, Cathal; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (01/07/2009)
      Increased interest and demand for land based recreational amenities has seen the rise of conflict between landowners and recreationalists (particularly walkers) in the Republic of Ireland. A right of access to the countryside for recreation prevalent across other developed nations does not apply. Stakeholders have tabled various proposals to address this situation ranging from a right to roam across the countryside to a compensation payment to landowners for recreational access. Whilst policy makers are aware of the economic opportunities associated with open-air outdoor recreation activities, rational public decision making requires that economic benefits and costs should be clearly identified and valued to justify any policy intervention. To-date no such evaluation has been undertaken. This thesis explores supply and demand side factors that influence public access provision to the Irish countryside for recreational walking. Firstly, contingent valuation was used to measure the willingness to pay of consumers for improved public access and trail improvements on commonage farmland based on two case study sites in the Connemara region. Secondly, a national representative survey was used to explore the attitudes of landowners across the Republic of Ireland to the wider provision of public access for recreational walking on farmland, including the potential opportunity costs to agriculture as well as the level of compensation demanded by landowners. This thesis argues that based on derived welfare estimates there is significant scope for policy interventions to improve public access to the countryside in the Republic of Ireland.
    • Evaluation of supply control options for beef

      Dunne, William; O’Connell, J.J.; Shanahan, Ultan; Drennan, Michael J; Keane, Michael G. (Teagasc, 01/07/2009)
      The incomes of Irish cattle farmers benefited greatly from the reform of the CAP for beef and cereals in 1992 and more recently under Agenda 2000. In both of these reforms the institutional support prices were reduced and direct payments (DPs) were used to compensate farmers for the price reductions
    • Historical Grassland Turboveg Database Project. 2067 Relevés recorded by Dr Austin O’ Sullivan 1962 – 1982

      Bourke, David; Hochstrasser, Tamara; Nolan, Stephen; Schulte, Rogier P.; National Parks and Wildlife Service (Teagasc, 01/09/2007)
      The more common grassland types occupy about 70% of the Irish landscape (O’Sullivan, 1982), but information on these vegetation types is rare. Generally, Irish grasslands are distinguished based on the intensity of their management (improved or semi-natural grasslands), and the drainage conditions and acidity of the soil (dry or wet, calcareous or acidic grassland types) (Fossitt, 2000). However, little is known about their floristic composition and the changes in floristic composition over time. The current knowledge on grassland vegetation is mostly based on a survey of Irish grasslands by Dr. Austin O’Sullivan completed in the 1960’s and 1970’s (O’Sullivan, 1982). In this survey O’Sullivan identified Irish grassland types in accordance with the classification of continental European grasslands based on the principles of the School of Phytosociology. O’Sullivan distinguished five main grassland types introducing agricultural criteria as well as floristic criteria into grassland classification (O’Sullivan, 1982). In 1978, O’Sullivan made an attempt at mapping Ireland’s vegetation types including the five grassland types distinguished in his later publication as well as two types of peatland vegetation (Figures 1 and 2). This map was completed using 1960’s soils maps (National Soil Survey, Teagasc, Johnstown Castle) and a subsample of the dataset on the composition of Irish grasslands. Phytosociological classification of vegetation is based on the full floristic composition of the vegetation as determined by assessing the abundance and spatial structure of the plant species in a given area. The actual area of the survey (or relevé) is determined according to strict criteria, which include how representative the sample area is for the wider vegetation (i.e. how many of the species found in the wider area are also present in the survey area).
    • An Examination of the Productivity of Irish Agriculture in a Decoupled Policy Environment

      Carroll, James; Thorne, Fiona; Newman, Carol (Teagasc, 01/09/2008)
      The Single Farm Payment (SFP) scheme came into effect in the EU from the first of January 2005. This scheme replaced the many ‘coupled’ livestock and arable aid schemes available to farmers and was heralded as a significant move towards decoupling. This thesis explores the initial effects of this policy on total factor productivity (TFP) and its components (technical efficiency change, technical change, and scale efficiency change) in the main farming sectors in Ireland.
    • POLICY options

      Dunne, William; O’Connell, J.J.; Shanahan, Ultan (Teagasc, 01/09/2009)
      The incomes of Irish cattle farmers benefited greatly from the reform of the CAP for beef and cereals in 1992 and more recently under Agenda 2000. In both of these reforms the institutional support prices were reduced and animal-based direct payments (DPs) were used to compensate farmers for the anticipated market price reductions.
    • The impact of feed resource costs on the relative competitiveness of beef with other meats

      Dunne, William; Shanahan, Ultan; O’Connell, J.J. (Teagasc, 01/11/2008)
      These reforms represented a major turning point in fundamental structure of EU agricultural policy. This, at the time of implementation, created much uncertainty at both institutional and farm level in relation to future feed resource costs, cattle and beef prices and related market outlooks. However, as this report shows, the reality for Irish cattle farmers was rather different. As a result much of the research effort during the lifespan of the project was diverted to explaining the causes of the unforeseen outcomes together with the implications of policy decisions and related market developments.
    • Predicted costs and benefits of eradicating BVDV from Ireland

      Stott, Alistair W; Humphry, Roger W; Gunn, George J; Higgins, Isabella; Hennessy, Thia; O’Flaherty, Joe; Graham, David A (Biomed Central, 02/07/2012)
      Bovine viral diarrhoea virus (BVDV) causes an economically important endemic disease (BVD) of cattle in Ireland and worldwide. Systematic eradication by detection and removal of infectious (BVDV carrier) cattle has been successful in several regions. We therefore assessed the benefits (disease losses avoided) and costs (testing and culling regime) of a potential eradication programme in Ireland. Published bio-economic models of BVDV spread in beef suckler herds and dairy herds were adapted to estimate potential benefits of eradication in Ireland. A simple model of BVDV spread in beef finisher herds was devised to estimate the benefits of eradication in this sector. A six year eradication programme consisting of 5 inter-related virological and serological testing programmes is outlined and costed. We found that the annualised benefits of BVDV eradication in Ireland exceeded the costs by a factor of 5 in the beef suckler sector and a factor of 14 in the dairy sector. Corresponding payback periods were 1.2 and 0.5 years respectively. These results highlight the significant economic impact of BVDV on the Irish cattle industry and suggest a clear economic benefit to eradication using the proposed approach. This type of cost-benefit analysis is considered an essential prerequisite prior to undertaking an eradication campaign of this magnitude.
    • The Potential Economic Returns of Converting Agricultural Land to Forestry: An Analysis of System and Soil Effects from 1995 to 2009

      Upton, Vincent; Ryan, Mary; Farrelly, Niall; O'Donoghue, Cathal; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland (Society of Irish Foresters, 05/07/2013)
      Private land owners have been responsible for the majority of annual afforestation in Ireland since the mid1990s, but planting rates have generally been declining since 2002. Although the decision to plant may be driven by a number of factors, the profitability of forestry as a landuse option should be an important driver and offer some insight into trends in afforestation rates. As farmers undertake most afforestation in Ireland it is important to account for the opportunity cost of lost agricultural income when analysing the financial outcome of planting. In addition, soil quality plays an essential role in dictating the productivity and profitability of both agriculture and forestry. This study examines the effects of soil quality and superseded agricultural system on the potential profitability of afforestation by farmers between 1995 and 2009. Data from the National Farm Survey were employed to identify the annual gross margins for six agricultural systems on six soil types that differ in terms of quality. The measures of soil quality were translated into potential yield classes for forestry using an existing productivity model and Teagasc’s Forest Investment and Valuation Estimator was employed to calculate the net present value of afforestation for each of the systems and soil types. The results demonstrate how the competitiveness of forestry as a landuse option is influenced by soil quality and superseded enterprise and how forestry has become more competitive with agricultural enterprises over the period of analysis.
    • Assessing the Geographic Representativity of Farm Accountancy Data

      Green, Stuart; O'Donoghue, Cathal (MDPI AG., Basel, Switzerland, 06/02/2013)
      The environment affects agriculture, via soils, weather, etc. and agriculture affects the environment locally at farm level and via its impact on climate change. Locating agriculture within its spatial environment is thus important for farmers and policy makers. Within the EU countries collect detailed farm data to understand the technical and financial performance of farms; the Farm Accountancy Data Network. However, knowledge of the spatial-environmental context of these farms is reported at gross scale. In this paper, Irish farm accounting data is geo-referenced using address matching to a national address database. An analysis of the geographic distribution of the survey farms, illustrated through a novel 2D ranked pair plot of the coordinates, compared to the national distribution of farms shows a trend in the location of survey farms that leads to a statistical difference in the climatic variables associated with the farm. The farms in the survey have significantly higher accumulated solar radiation values than the national average. As a result, the survey may not be representative spatially of the pattern of environment x farm system. This could have important considerations when using FADN data in modelling climate change impacts on agri-economic performance.
    • Phosphorus management on Irish dairy farms post controls introduced under the EU Nitrates Directive

      Buckley, Cathal; Wall, David P.; Moran, Brian; O'Neill, Stephen; Murphy, Paul N. C.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland (Elsevier, 08/11/2015)
      The Republic of Ireland was one of a minority of EU member states to include direct controls on chemical phosphorus (P) fertilisers in its EU Nitrates Directive National Action Plan, first introduced in 2006. This study estimates farm gate phosphorus balances and use efficiencies across 150 specialist dairy farms over the seven year period since these controls were introduced (2006–2012) using nationally representative data. Results indicate that P balances declined by 50% over the study period from 11.9 in 2006 to 6.0 kg ha− 1 in 2012. This decline was driven by a reduction in chemical fertiliser imports of 6.5 kg ha− 1. This is equivalent to a reduction of 281 kg of P and represents a cost saving of €812 per annum across the average farm. Phosphorus use efficiency also improved over the period from 60% in 2006 to 78% in 2012, peaking in 2011 at 88.3%. This was achieved while increasing milk solids output per hectare and per cow. Results of a random effects panel data model indicated that P balance and use efficiency are significantly influenced by factors such as fertiliser prices, stocking rates, land use potential, use of milk recording technology, contact with extension services and rainfall patterns.
    • Work-related musculoskeletal disorders among Irish farm operators

      Osborne, Aoife; Blake, Catherine; Meredith, David; Kinsella, Anne; Phelan, James; McNamara, John; Cunningham, Caitriona; Health and Safety Authority, Ireland; Teagasc (Wiley Periodicals Inc., 10/07/2012)
      Background- To establish prevalence, risk factors and impact of work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs) among farmers in Ireland. Methods- In summer 2009, a questionnaire was appended to the Teagasc (Irish Agricultural and Food Development Authority) National Farm Survey (n=1110) to obtain data on the prevalence, risk factors and impact of WMSDs amongst farm operators in Ireland. Data were collected by trained recorders and analyzed using chi-square tests, t-tests, Mann-Whitney tests and binary logistic regression. Results- The prevalence of WMSDs in the previous year was 9.4% (n=103), with the most commonly affected body region being the low back 31% (n=32). Nearly 60% (n=57) of farmers reported missing at least a full day’s work as a consequence of their WMSD. Personal factors evaluated using bivariate regression analysis, were found not to influence whether or not a farmer experienced a WMSD. However, work-related factors such as larger European Size Units (ESUs) (OR=1.007, CI=1.002-1.012), greater number of hectares farmed (OR=2.50, CI=1.208-4.920), higher income (OR=1.859, CI=1.088-3.177), dairy enterprise (OR=1.734, CI=1.081-2.781), and working on a fulltime farm (OR=2.156, CI=1.399-3.321) increased the likelihood of experiencing a WMSD. The variable ‘fulltime farm’ which was associated with a higher labour unit requirement to operate the farm, was the only factor found to independently predict WMSDs in the multivariate regression analyses. Conclusions- This study suggests that the prevalence of WMSDs can be reduced by the application of improved farm management practices. A more detailed examination of the risk factors associated with WMSDs is required to establish causality and hence, effective interventions.
    • Cease agricultural activity forever? Underestimating the importance of symbolic capital

      Conway, Shane Francis; McDonagh, John; Farrell, Maura; Kinsella, Anne; National University of Ireland, Galway; Geographical Society of Ireland (Elsevier, 11/02/2016)
      Similar to what is occurring on a global scale, Irish agriculture is populated by an older generation of farmers. Consequently, intergenerational family farm transfer is increasingly viewed as crucial to the survival, continuity and future sustainability of the family farm and agricultural sector. A review of existing research highlights how financial incentives that encourage succession and retirement from farming have stimulated little change in the behavioural intentions and attitudes amongst elderly farmers. Drawing on two previously disparate literature (transferring the family firm and transferring the family farm) and applying Pierre Bourdieu's concept of symbolic capital as a theoretical framework, this paper sets aside financial enticements and presents an insightful, nuanced analysis of the human factors that influence the process of transferring the family farm from the perspective of the senior generation. This research employs a multi-method triangulation design, consisting of self-administered questionnaires in conjunction with complimentary Problem-Centred Interviews, to acquire data on the complex psychodynamic and sociodynamic emotions involved in the process. The prominent themes to emerge from the empirical data are farmer's concerns regarding potential loss of identity, status and control upon transferring management and ownership of the family farm and retiring. Many older farmers appear to prioritise the building and maintenance of their personal accumulation of symbolic capital rather than ceasing agricultural activity. The paper concludes by suggesting that future policies and programmes encouraging family farm transfer must take into account the pervasiveness of symbolic capital and work within this structure to develop effective strategies that addresses the emotional well-being of elderly farmers.