• Developing farm-level sustainability indicators for Ireland using the Teagasc National Farm Survey

      Ryan, Mary; Hennessy, Thia; Buckley, Cathal; Dillon, Emma; Donnellan, Trevor; Hanrahan, Kevin; Moran, Brian (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2016-12-30)
      In the context of an expanding, export-dependent agri-food sector, indicators of sustainable development and intensification are necessary to measure, assess and verify the comparative advantage afforded by Ireland’s natural pastoral-based food production systems. Such indicators are also necessary to ensure that we produce more food with less adverse impacts on the Irish environment, climate and society. This article outlines the development of farm-level indicators that refect the multifaceted nature of sustainability, which is encompassed in economic, environmental and social indicators. The role of innovation in farm sustainability was also examined. A comparison of indicators across Irish farm systems showed that dairy farms, followed by tillage farms, tended to be the most economically and socially sustainable farm systems. In relation to greenhouse gas emissions in particular, the top-performing dairy farms, in an economic sense, also tended to be the best-performing farms from an environmental sustainability perspective. This trend was also evident in relation to the adoption of innovative practices on farm, which was found to be strongly correlated with economic performance.
    • Developing the EU Farm Accountancy Data Network to derive indicators around the sustainable use of nitrogen and phosphorus at farm level.

      Buckley, Cathal; Wall, David; Moran, Brian; Murphy, Paul N. C.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland (Springer, 2015-07)
      This study uses a national farm survey which is part of the European Union (EU) Farm Accountancy Data Network (FADN) to develop environmental sustainability indicators in the use of nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) across a range of farm systems in the Republic of Ireland. Farm level micro data were used to calculate all inputs and outputs of N and P that cross the farm gate and to derive balances (kg ha-1) and overall use efficiencies across 827 farms in 2012. The sample is populated weighted to represents 71,480 farms nationally. Results indicated an average N balance of 71.0 kg ha-1 and use efficiency of 36.7% across the nationally representative sample. Nitrogen balances were between two and four times higher across specialist dairy farms compared to livestock rearing and specialist tillage systems. Nitrogen use efficiency was generally lowest across milk producing systems compared to livestock rearing and tillage systems. Phosphorus balance and use efficiency averaged 4.7 kg ha-1 and 79.6% respectively across the sample. Specialist tillage and dairying farms had higher average P balances compared to other livestock based systems. The approach developed in this analysis will form the benchmark for temporal analysis across these indicators for future nutrient balance and efficiency trends and could assist other members of the EU FADN to develop similar nationally representative indicators.
    • 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 J.; 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.
    • Does the single farm payment affect farmers’ behaviour? A macro and micro analysis

      Howley, Peter; Breen, J.; O'Donoghue, Cathal; Hennessy, Thia; European Commission; QLK5-CT-2000-00473; SSPE-CT-2005-021543 (Institute of Agricultural Management, 2012-10)
      Using Ireland as a case study, the overall aim of this paper is to determine if decoupled payments affect farmers’ behaviour. Using a dynamic, multi product, partial equilibrium model of the EU agricultural sector, this paper first compares levels of production that would be expected if decoupled payments had no impact on farmers’ activity with actual observed outcomes. Second this paper compares cereal and cattle farmers’ profitability prior to decoupling with that observed after the introduction of decoupled payments. The analysis presented here would suggest that decoupled payments do still maintain a significant effect on agricultural activity with farmers using this new form of support to partly subsidise unprofitable farm production.
    • An economic analysis of the Irish milk quota exchange scheme.

      Hennessy, Thia; Lapple, Doris; Shalloo, Laurence; Wallace, Michael (Institute of Agricultural Management, 2012-03)
      In Ireland, the trade of milk quota is subject to regional restrictions and a large variation in quota prices between regions has caused some controversy. This article investigates this issue by analysing the functioning of the Irish milk quota exchange market. For this purpose, the economic value of milk quota is estimated using an optimisation framework. The estimated values are then compared to milk quota prices paid at the exchange market. The analysis reveals that quota is undervalued in the border, midlands and west and south-west regions, while milk quota is overvalued in the east and south regions. This implies that farmers in certain regions overpay for additional quota, while other farmers secure good value for their quota investments. The paper concludes by discussing that the identified regional differences are only partly explained by economic and production factors.
    • Effect of classroom intervention on student food selection and plate waste: Evidence from a randomized control trial

      Serebrennikov, Dmytro; Katare, Bhagyashree; Kirkham, Lisa; Schmitt, Sara; Indiana State Department of Health (Public Library of Science (PLoS), 2020-01-09)
      Background U.S. children are failing to meet the recommended daily 4 cups of fruits and vegetables. New federal guidelines were implemented for healthier school lunches for the National School Lunch Programs (NSLP). Consequently, students waste large amounts of fruits and vegetables. Several organizations advocate implementation of classroom nutrition education programs as a school nutrition policy. Methods We conducted a randomized control trial to evaluate the effectiveness of a classroom nutrition education on food consumption behavior of public elementary school students. Our intervention was designed to improve students’ preferences for fruits and vegetables. We collected data using digital-photography, and estimated the amount of fruits and vegetables selected and wasted using ordinary least squares. Results The nutrition education program had no impact on the amount of fruits and vegetables selected by the students in the treatment group. We also find no significant difference in the amount of fruits and vegetables wasted by students in the treatment and control group. Conclusion Nutrition education did not change students’ consumption behavior, implying the proposed policy might not be optimal. Inducing a behavioral change in elementary school students is an intricate process and might require more than classroom lessons to change their dietary habits.
    • The effect of decoupling on farming in Ireland: A regional analysis

      Shrestha, Shailesh; Hennessy, Thia; Hynes, Stephen (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2007)
      Data from the Irish National Farm Survey and Census of Agriculture were used to analyse the regional implications of the decoupling of direct payments for farmers in Ireland. A mathematical programming model was used to estimate the regional effects of decoupling while a micro-simulation model was exploited to map the geographic distribution of decoupled payments. The results show that under the historical decoupling scheme, milk quota will shift from less efficient to larger more efficient farms in all regions. Beef cattle numbers are projected to decrease on all farms, with the exception of the Mideast and Southeast regions where numbers are projected to increase. The regional effect of decoupling on sheep farming was marginal with all regions projected to benefit from the policy change. The analysis also shows, using a static micro-simulation model that a shift to a flat rate national calculation of the decoupled payment would result in a significant movement of revenues from the southern regions to the northwestern regions of the country. In particular, large beef and dairy farmers in the southern regions would lose out while small dairy and sheep farmers in the western and northern regions would be most likely to gain.
    • The employment effects of Food Harvest 2020 in Ireland

      Miller, Ana Corina; Matthews, Alan; Donnellan, Trevor; O'Donoghue, Cathal (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2014)
      This paper examines the job creation potential of the four main sectoral growth targets in the Food Harvest 2020 (FH2020) development plan for Irish agriculture, namely the growth targets for milk, beef, sheep and pigs. As well as the direct employment that would be created from an increase in activity in the agriculture sector, there would be a knock-on benefit for the rest of the economy arising out of the linkages between agriculture and other economic sectors, as well as the spending of those additionally employed on goods and services produced in the economy. Commonly this is described as the multiplier impact. Two scenarios are simulated using different assumptions to assess how employment will respond to increased output. The first scenario shows the effects of the four shocks calculated using average or direct employment coefficients. The second scenario calculates the effects using marginal employment coefficients estimated using an econometric model of the output-employment relationship. Our results are sensitive to the choice of coefficients used to simulate the employment potential of the FH2020 targets. Based on our preferred scenario using marginal employment coefficients, we estimate that achieving the FH2020 targets will create at least an additional 16,500 jobs in the Irish economy.
    • Environmental Efficiency and Pollution Costs of Nitrogen Surplus in Dairy Farms: A Parametric Hyperbolic Technology Distance Function Approach

      Adenuga, Adewale Henry; Davis, John; Hutchinson, George; Donnellan, Trevor; Patton, Myles; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2019-08-22)
      Negative externalities such as nitrogen (N) surplus that accompany dairy production activities are not usually accounted for in the market place since they are not costed. Using a parametric hyperbolic environmental technology distance function approach, we estimate the environmental efficiency and farm-specific abatement costs (shadow price) of nitrogen surplus in dairy farms on the island of Ireland (Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland). The methodology, unlike previous approaches (output/input distance functions), allows for asymmetric treatments of production outputs (desirable and undesirable outputs). We also analyse the farm level nitrogen pollution costs ratio and its determinants. The results of our analyses showed that the average environmental technical efficiency estimates for the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland are 0.89 and 0.92 and the mean abatement costs per kg of N surplus is €4.02 and €6.2 respectively. We found a reasonable degree of variation in the spectrum of abatement costs across the dairy farms with a relative increase observed over the years.
    • 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.
    • European Network of Agr & Rural Policy Research (Enarpri)

      Donnellan, Trevor; Hanrahan, Kevin (Teagasc, 31/12/2006)
      The economic impact of trade policy reform receives less attention than the impact of trade policy on the environment. In part this may be due to the secondary importance attributed to environmental issues when economic consequences take centre stage. However, another consideration may be the difficulties of bringing together models which examine the economic impact of trade policy reform and models which can provide measures of environmental indicators. This study combines a partial equilibrium economic commodity model with a model for the estimation of agricultural input usage and GHG emissions. The paper examines one aspect of the relationship between trade policy and the environment, namely that between agricultural trade policy reform and indicators relating to emissions of Greenhouse Gases (GHG) from agriculture. The paper examines the impact of agricultural production levels and production practices on the level of GHG emissions from agriculture in Ireland under a Baseline of the recent reform of EU agricultural policy and an alternate scenario where trade policy reforms resulting from a future World Trade Organisation Doha Development Round agreement to reveal the extent to which there are significant environmental impacts which should be considered in addition to the conventional economic considerations.
    • Evaluation of supply control options for beef

      Dunne, William; O'Connell, John 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
    • The Evolution of a Collective Response to Rural Underdevelopment

      Heanue, Kevin; O'Donoghue, Kieran; O'Neill, Michael (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2011)
      The downturn in the Irish economy coupled with high levels of unemployment has focused attention on the need to promote economic development throughout the economy. This paper provides case study evidence on one successful approach to rural economic development by outlining the evolution, outcomes and key capabilities involved in a collective action response to the challenge of rural underdevelopment in North West Connemara. Reviewing a fifty year period, the case study shows that collective action in the region has not only been a series of events, but more crucially from a development perspective, it is embedded as an institution and a process. Therefore, as a result of learning by this community over a fifty year period, a collective action response has evolved as a key strategy to overcome government and market failure in relation to rural development. This case provides a good example to other communities of how locality can be drawn upon and used as an advantage in an increasingly globalised environment and how a local community can seek to ameliorate the negative aspects of globalisation by harnessing its local resources. In broad policy terms, the implication is that there are public good benefits to be gained from assisting and encouraging local communities through the provision of finance and capability building support, to deliver collective action responses to their particular challenges.
    • 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).
    • An Examination of the Implications of Milk Quota Reform on the Viability and Productivity of Dairy Farming in Ireland

      Hennessy, Thia; Shrestha, Shailesh; Shalloo, Laurence; Wallace, Michael; Butler, Anne Marie; Smyth, Paul (Teagasc, 31/12/2008)
      The aim of the project was to produce quality, scientific based policy advice on the most efficient means for the transfer of milk quota between dairy farmers. The main objective of the project was to identify milk quota transfer mechanisms that would ensure the viability of the maximum number of farmers in Ireland while still supporting an internationally competitive agricultural sector. During the course of the project the Irish Department of Agriculture introduced a new milk quota transfer scheme. The milk quota exchange scheme was launched in November 2006. At this stage the objectives of the project were altered to be more policy relevant. Rather than exploring the efficiency of various milk quota transfer models, the aim of the project was redirected to explore the efficiency of the scheme as it was operated in Ireland. The rationale for this change was to provide relevant and timely feedback to policy makers on the operation of the new scheme. While the MTR agreement guaranteed the continuation of the EU milk quota regime until 2014/15, it also made provisions for a review of the milk quota system to be conducted in 2008. Clearly any changes to EU milk quota policy would have implications for farmers in Ireland. A second objective of this project was to explore some policy scenarios that may transpire from the milk quota review and to estimate the implications for farmers in Ireland.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • Explaining the non-economic behaviour of farm foresters: The effect of productivist and lifestyle motivations

      Howley, Peter; Hynes, Stephen; O'Donoghue, Cathal (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2012)
      Currently rates of planting lag far behind levels that would be expected from a comparison of the returns from farm forestry with competing agricultural alternatives. Previous research has focused on the role of economic factors such as government subsidies, returns from competing agricultural alternatives and structural farm factors in explaining the decision to afforest. By examining the role of farming attitudes and motivations, the aim of this paper is to provide a framework for better understanding farmers’ behaviour in relation to the decision to enter into forestry. The results provide rare quantitative evidence that strong lifestyle and productivist motivations significantly affect farmers’ behaviour. Environmental values and perceptions regarding the extent to which forestry is seen as a component of a natural landscape were two further factors found to affect the probability of participation. We conclude that the design of policies aimed at encouraging changes in farm activities ought to be guided by a better understanding of the motivations and attitudes of farm operators.
    • Factors affecting the level of farm indebtedness: the role of farming attitudes

      Howley, Peter; Dillon, Emma (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2012)
      Using a nationally representative survey of farm operators in Ireland, this paper aims to provide a framework for better understanding the characteristics that influence the degree of indebtedness on farm businesses. This paper derives explanatory variables (based on a factor analysis of respondents mean ratings of 13 multiple value items) representing 3 different farming attitudes. An ordered logit model is then formulated to examine the effect of farming attitudes as well as personal characteristics and farm structural variables on the degree of indebtedness. Personal characteristics of the farmer such as age and education as well as farm structural variables such as farm size and farm system were all found to have a statistically significant impact. The presence of decoupled farm payments was also found to affect the degree of indebtedness. The study identified two distinct farming attitudes which were found to have important but opposite effects. These were attitudes strongly orientated to business related objectives which was positively associated with having farming debts and secondly positive attitudes relating to the benefits of farm relative to non-farm work which was negatively associated with the degree of indebtedness. Past research has focused on the effect of socio-demographic characteristics and farm structural variables in examining differences in farm indebtedness. This study extends this literature by specifically examining the role of farming attitudes. Obtaining a deeper understanding of the factors that affect the level of farming debt will be important as the degree of indebtedness has been found to affect farmers’ management decisions. Furthermore, outside of explaining farm credit use, farming attitudes and motivations may have an important impact on farmers’ behaviour in relation to a variety of farm activities.
    • Factors associated with profitability in pasture-based systems of milk production

      Hanrahan, Liam; McHugh, Noirin; Hennessy, Thia; Moran, Brian; Kearney, R.; Wallace, Michael; Shalloo, Laurence (Elsevier, 2018-03-07)
      The global dairy industry needs to reappraise the systems of milk production that are operated at farm level with specific focus on enhancing technical efficiency and competitiveness of the sector. The objective of this study was to quantify the factors associated with costs of production, profitability, and pasture use, and the effects of pasture use on financial performance of dairy farms using an internationally recognized representative database over an 8-yr period (2008 to 2015) on pasture-based systems. To examine the associated effects of several farm system and management variables on specific performance measures, a series of multiple regression models were developed. Factors evaluated included pasture use [kg of dry matter/ha and stocking rate (livestock units/ha)], grazing season length, breeding season length, milk recording, herd size, dairy farm size (ha), farmer age, discussion group membership, proportion of purchased feed, protein %, fat %, kg of milk fat and protein per cow, kg of milk fat and protein per hectare, and capital investment in machinery, livestock, and buildings. Multiple regression analysis demonstrated costs of production per hectare differed by year, geographical location, soil type, level of pasture use, proportion of purchased feed, protein %, kg of fat and protein per cow, dairy farm size, breeding season length, and capital investment in machinery, livestock, and buildings per cow. The results of the analysis revealed that farm net profit per hectare was associated with pasture use per hectare, year, location, soil type, grazing season length, proportion of purchased feed, protein %, kg of fat and protein per cow, dairy farm size, and capital investment in machinery and buildings per cow. Pasture use per hectare was associated with year, location, soil type, stocking rate, dairy farm size, fat %, protein %, kg of fat and protein per cow, farmer age, capital investment in machinery and buildings per cow, breeding season length, and discussion group membership. On average, over the 8-yr period, each additional tonne of pasture dry matter used increased gross profit by €278 and net profit by €173 on dairy farms. Conversely, a 10% increase in the proportion of purchased feed in the diet resulted in a reduction in net profit per hectare by €97 and net profit by €207 per tonne of fat and protein. Results from this study, albeit in a quota limited environment, have demonstrated that the profitability of pasture-based dairy systems is significantly associated with the proportion of pasture used at the farm level, being cognizant of the levels of purchased feed.