• Development of a benchmarking system for Irish beef farms using data envelopment analysis

      Finneran, Eoghan; Crosson, Paul (2013)
      Agricultural extension trends have involved greater use of collaborative “discussion group” dissemination approaches. These discussion groups involve regular participatory meetings between a consistent cohort of farmers and extension practitioners with occasional input from industry and research stakeholders. In Ireland, policy change, small farm scale and low incomes are some of the factors incentivising beef farmers and industry to seek increased whole-farm income efficiency. Whole-farm comparative analysis may provide a means of identifying and explaining efficiency drivers at farm level. This article describes the development of BEEFMARK, a benchmarking model with potential to act as a tool to facilitate farmer-farmer and farmer-adviser group learning within discussion groups. BEEFMARK utilised Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA) to measure beef farm income and scale efficiency and to identify and characterise efficient peer farms which act as benchmarks for similarly structured, but lower efficiency farms. Market derived gross output (€) per livestock unit was positively associated with farm efficiency while greater overhead and concentrate feed expenditure was negatively associated with income and scale efficiency.