End of Project reports from the departments comprising the Teagasc Rural Economy & Development PRogramme

Recent Submissions

  • Development of a Strategic Approach for a Single EU Beef Market

    Dunne, Liam; O'Connell, John (Teagasc, 2004-12-31)
    The MacSharry reforms of the CAP in 1992 initiated a major EU policy shift from product price support to a mix of lower prices and increased direct payments (DPs) as the primary method of supporting the income of cattle farmers. The reduction in the support price for beef and the introduction of new and increased DPs were phased in over a three year period up to 1995. In working paper No. 4 it was shown that cattle farmers in Ireland obtain the lowest beef prices in the EU but they also obtain the highest DPs per kilo of beef produced. The DPs are now a major source of revenue for cattle farmers in Ireland. Under the current system of administering DPs for beef, the value of DPs accruing to the individual cattle farmer is dependent on the possession of certain types of animals that are farmed within defined stocking densities. This paper evaluates how the changes have impacted on the margins for the cattle enterprise on the farms in the Teagasc, National Farm Survey (NFS) over the five year period 1993 to 1997. In particular the evaluation focused on: • the trends in the size of gross and net margins for a range of cattle systems • the trends in market based margins • the contribution of DPs to gross and net margins • the distribution of DPs among different types and size of cattle
  • Presentations from the All Island Farm Safety Conference

    Gracey, Kenny; Meredith, David; McNamara, John; Dalton, Marie; Murray, Finian; Earley, Bernadette; Prendiville, Daniel J.; Mazurek, Mickael; Kennedy, Michael; Downey, Malcom; Lundqvist, Peter (Teagasc, 2008-06-18)
    An All Island Farm Safety Conference took place on Wednesday, 18 June 2008 at the Hillgrove Hotel, Old Armagh Road, Monaghan. The presentations from this conference will be of interest to farmers, agricultural contractors, and anyone with an interest in safety and health in agriculture. Each of the talk titles below is a link to the Microsoft PowerPoint presentation in PDF format
  • Economic aspects of the production and marketing of hardy nursery stock

    Maher, M.J.; Roe, G.; Twohig, D.; Kelly, P.W. (Teagasc, 1999-01-01)
    A census of the Nursery Stock industry, carried out in autumn 1997, valued the sales of plants produced by the industry in 1996 at £18.8m. In the period since a previous census in 1994 field production of nursery stock expanded by 17% while the production of container plants shifted towards the greater use of protected cultivation. Employment in the industry rose by 28% to 912 full time equivalent jobs. Kildare was predominant in the production of containerised plants while Tipperary was the most important county for field production. Together, these two counties produced nearly half the value of the industry. Together with Cork, Dublin, Kilkenny and Wicklow they accounted for three quarters of the value of the industry. The industry was concentrated in that the largest 10% of the nurseries produced 59% of the value of the industry. As nursery size increased, the value of sales output per person rose sharply. Larger nurseries were also more productive per unit area. Exports were valued at £3.45m and imports at £2.22m. The main lines exported were ornamental shrubs followed by liners and deciduous trees. Two thirds of the exports were destined for Great Britain with the remainder going to Northern Ireland. Exporting was even more concentrated than production with the largest 10% of the nurseries providing 83% of the exports. The main imports were deciduous trees and liners. Two thirds of the imports originated from the continent and the remainder were from Great Britain. Small nurseries reported that capital and profitability were the principal factors limiting expansion of their nurseries. Larger nurseries however placed the availability of suitable staff as the main limiting factor. The most common difficulty reported by exporters was the cost of transport and a number of problems relating to the difficulties that individual nurseries or small groups have in supplying a large, discerning and relatively distant market. This underlined the need for increased co-ordination and co-operation in the future.
  • Development Programmes and Policy Measures in the Western Countries

    McDonagh, Perpetua; Commins, Patrick; Leavy, Anthony (Teagasc, 1999-08-01)
    This report compares the 11 western counties (Connacht, Ulster, and counties Longford, Clare and Kerry) with the 15 other counties, in aggregate, as regards the effectiveness of various policies and programme measures in reaching their target populations.
  • A Census Atlas of Irish Agriculture

    Commins, P.; Lafferty, F.; Walsh, J.A. (Teagasc, 1999-08-01)
    Computerised mapping systems were developed to analyse agricultural census statistics and data from agricultural policy administration sources. The objective was to identify local geographical variations in the structure and trends in the agricultural economy by mapping the available information, principally at the level of the District Electoral Division (DED) and the Rural District (RD). There were 3,113 DEDs and 156 RDs in the analysis. The main database was the 1991 Census of Agriculture, the latest available. Some statistics are updated annually and where possible these were used in tabular form to trace the 1991- 1997 trends for Regional Authority areas. Conclusions: There are distinctive farming regions in the country whose boundaries span unevenly across county limits. These are undergoing different processes of change depending on their resource base, their responses to economic imperatives, and the policy environment. • Commercial farming has become increasingly associated with areas south and east of a line from Limerick to Dundalk. • It is likely that policies and trends post 2000 will further increase the differences in resource use between commercial farming and other areas.
  • Direct Payment Measures, competitiveness, farm and rural area viability.

    Frawley, J.P.; Keeney, M. (Teagasc, 1999-08-01)
    Direct payments are recurring non-market transfers to farmers whether they are production related or not. There are three main types: (a) compensatory allowances (headage), (b) premia and (c) agri-environmental payments. In 1998 total payments amounted to £967.3 million, up from £158.4 million in 1992. The objectives of this study were to evaluate the effectiveness of these payments in maintaining farm units, their implications for farm efficiency and competitiveness and their impact on sustaining viable farm units and rural areas. Data from the National Farm Survey shows the average level of payment was £6,670 in 1997 but varied substantially by farm size. For instance, farms over 100 ha on average received £28,207 in contrast with £3,305 for farms between 10 and 20 ha. Similarly, the distribution of payments by different farm systems shows considerable variation with tillage farmers receiving £15,760 and cattle farms receiving less than £6,000. The most significant feature, however, is the extent of the dependency of farm incomes on direct payments. For instance, on tillage and drystock farms these payments represented close to, or even exceeded the family farm income earned. This means that the income from sales are just about sufficient to cover the costs of production; the cheque in the post being the farm income. Without direct payments large segments of the farm population would operate at a loss; a situation which obviously could not be sustained. The impact of direct payments on farm efficiency and competitiveness is not so clear cut. Analysis of 1996 NFS data shows that the response on cattle farms to increased levels of direct payments was to reduce farm output. However, in terms of farm practice the dominant response was to increase stock numbers and farm inputs, such as feed and fertiliser. This latter response can be taken as adjustments to ensure sufficient stock numbers to maximise the level of payments and not necessarily a contradiction of reduced output responses. For instance the dominant anticipated response to a decoupled payment system is a reduction in farm inputs and stock numbers, a response associated with the more progressive sector of farmers. Notwithstanding the present level of these payments it is clear that the viability of farm units on most small to medium-sized drystock farms can not be assured in a farm context only. Increasingly farmers and their spouses are opting for off-farm employment to supplement their household incomes and to sustain the viability of the family farm unit. Ultimately the optimum use of family labour which is marginal or surplus to farm activities, is deployment off the farm; this clearly has a positive influence on the viability of rural areas.
  • Crop costs and margins and future cereal prices.

    Kelly, P.W. (Teagasc, 1999-09-01)
    This report summarises two pieces of research, one on Irish crop gross margins and the structure of direct costs for the period 1994-97 and the other on trends in world cereal prices to 2008 and their influence on the price of cereals in Ireland.
  • Economic Performance in Irish Sheep Production

    Connolly, L. (Teagasc, 2000-04-01)
    The objectives of this project were to identify and quantify the factors affecting the profitability of the main systems of sheep production; to identify the factors responsible for the wide variation in output between sheep farms and to assess the impact of EU policy measures on Irish sheep production.
  • The Promotion and Marketing of Qulaity Products from Disadvantaged Rual Areas.

    McDonagh, Perpetua; Commins, Patrick (Teagasc, 2000-11-01)
    The present study was part of a project co-funded under the EU’s Fifth Framework Programme. The project was concerned with 12 ‘lagging rural regions’ in six countries of the EU and, specifically, with the strategies, structure and policies used to support the successful marketing and promotion of quality products and services in these regions. Its aims were: – to identify current marketing strategies and promotional activities among small and medium enterprises (SMEs) with special reference to the use of regional imagery in marketing quality products and services; – to explore consumer perceptions in relation to the purchase of quality products and services from specific lagging regions; – to identify the strategies and practices of the main institutional structures (e.g., local authorities, development agencies, marketing organisations) in supporting the marketing of quality products and services; – to bring forward ideas for the future development of regional quality products and services.
  • The Impact of Direct Payments on Farm Income Distribution.

    Frawley, J.P.; Keeney, M. (Teagasc, 2000-11-01)
    The switch in emphasis from market support systems in the 1992 CAP reform toward direct payments resulted in a dramatic increase in financial support terms, from £336.7 million in 1991 to £915.3 million in 1999 (current prices). The impact of this change in Irish agricultural policy was to increase substantially the dependency of farmers, with the exception of dairy farmers, on the ‘cheque in the post’ for a farm income. It is the impact of these changes on the distribution of farm income which is of concern in this study. In line with these policy changes the proportion of average family farm income derived from the market (as opposed to direct payments) decreased from 73.3 per cent in 1993 to 37.1 per cent in 1997. At the same time the corresponding proportions for direct payments increased from 26.7 per cent to 62.9 per cent. Analysis of the distribution of family farm income by deciles (based on FFI) and for all farms indicates a more equitable distribution of income between 1993 and 1997. This improvement in equity is attributed to the effects of direct payments on farm incomes. Analysis decomposing the individual effects of selected measures show that (i) the suckler cow premia, and (ii) the headage payments (Livestock headage payments in the Disadvantaged Areas) were the most effective measures in favouring income distribution equity. Cross compliance schemes (REPS and extensification) and the special beef premia had a more moderate effect in terms of equity while the arable aid payments contributed least to farm income equity. The market-derived income component had a high negative effect on equity of farm income distribution. The inclusion of a high proportion of dairy farmers among those with high farm incomes is a likely factor in this respect.
  • Farm Facilities On Small - Medium Type Dairy Farms.

    Gleeson, David E. (Teagasc, 2000-11-01)
    82 % of farms with milk quota < 54,552 litres have bucket/pipeline milking plants. • There were a high percentage of milking machine faults on the farms surveyed. • Fragmented land portions are more likely to limit dairy expansion than farm size. • 60% of farms had beef buildings suitable for conversion to dairy housing • 88 % of farms had adequate cubicle spaces for present cow numbers • The cost of purchasing milk quota was considered to be the biggest factor restricting expansion. • 67 % of farms with quota > 54,552 litres are joined REPS. • 51 % of farms had dairies registered under dairy hygiene regulations. • Milk bulk tank size would limit dairy expansion without investment in larger static tanks. • The number of cows to fill milk quota is better matched in the higher quota category. • The length of the working day was 12.7 hrs/day for an average herd size of 23 cows. • Estimated cost of extra facilities per farm to allow for scaling up in milk production from 90,920-181,840 litres is £33,760
  • Measuring Productivity Change and Efficiency on Irish Farms.

    O'Neill, Suzanne; Leavy, Anthony; Matthews, Alan (Teagasc, 2001-01-01)
    This report investigates technical change and levels of technical efficiency on Irish farms using National Farm Survey (N.F.S.) data. It also examines whether levels of technical efficiency are influenced by contact with the extension service. The study utilises a stochastic production frontier approach to measure productivity growth and the technical efficiency of a panel of Irish farms over the period 1984 to 1998. This sample was used to calculate (a) technical change over time as measured by best practice farms and (b) technical efficiency levels of all farms over this period. It, therefore, provides disaggregated estimates of technical change by farming system as well as quantifying the average level of technical efficiency. The project also examines the factors associated with differences in technical efficiency between farms and the impact of extension service contact on farm-level technical efficiency. Mean technical change (i.e. changes in best practice) continued, albeit at a declining rate, throughout the period studied. Significant differences were revealed in the rate of technical change on farms of different types. For example technical change on dairy and crop farms averaged nearly 2 per cent per annum while technical regress occurred on beef and sheep farms. In addition to examining technical change, farm efficiency relative to best practice within each farming system was also measured. Results indicate that farms achieved, on average, approximately 65 per cent of the efficiency level of best practice farms. The average level of farm efficiency has been decreasing by 0.4 per cent per annum indicating that the gap between best practice farms and all farms has been increasing by this amount over time. Thirty one percent of the most efficient farms were dairy farms while 23 per cent were arable farms. Approximately 52 per cent of the least efficient farms were cattle farms while a further 31 per cent were sheep farms. Average efficiency over the period was 34.2 per cent in the least efficient quintile of farms. This compared to almost 90 per cent for the most efficient quintile of farms. A positive relationship between age and efficiency was found up to the age of 49 years after which the relationship between age and efficiency becomes negative. The farm debt to assets ratio was positively related to efficiency while farm size and location in the West of Ireland was negatively related to efficiency. Farms in contact with the extension service were found to be on average 6.5 per cent more efficient than farms without contact. Contact farms with a lower than average dependency on direct payments were a further 6.6 per cent than contact farms with an average dependency on direct payments. Contact farms with a higher than average dependence on direct payments were 1.9 per cent less efficient than the same group of contact farms. However, efficiency on these farms with a high dependence on direct payments was still, on average, higher than on farms with no extension contact.
  • An Econometric Model of Irish Beef Exports

    Hanrahan, Kevin (Teagasc, 2001-01-01)
    This report summarizes research that the author undertook as part of his doctoral studies in the Department of Agricultural Economics at the University of Missouri- Columbia.† The policy environment within which the Irish beef sector operates is changing such that the demand for Irish beef will increasingly be of a market rather than a policy determined nature. This changing environment makes knowledge concerning the demand for Irish beef important to understanding the economic prospects of the sector. The objectives of this research were thus two fold. The first objective was to investigate the demand for Irish beef in the UK. The second objective relates to how such consumer demand models are econometrically estimated. The empirical results show that the demand for beef in general in the UK is not price elastic and that the demand for Irish beef in the UK is price inelastic. The expenditure elasticity of demand for beef in the UK is also inelastic. The implications of this result for the Irish beef industry are as follows Decreases in the price of beef in the UK will not lead to large increases in British demand for beef. Increases in expenditure on meats will see expenditure on beef increase but to a lesser extent than other meats. Increases in the price of Irish beef relative to the prices of other beef products on the UK market will not lead to a large decrease in the market share of Irish beef. The relative insensitivity of demand for Irish beef in the UK to changes in its relative price also implies that attempts to increase the Irish share of the UK beef market will require very large reductions in the price of Irish beef. Given the current dependence of the Irish beef industry on subsidized exports to non-EU markets, the results of this research imply that attempts to re-orientate the Irish industry more towards servicing EU beef markets will require either large price decreases, with the consequent impacts on the market based revenue of the Irish beef industry and farmers, or alternatively, a movement towards the production of beef products that appeal to the non-price concerns of EU consumers and away from the production of a commodity product.
  • Economics of Cattle Production Systems Post CAP Reform.

    Dunne, William; O'Neill, Ronan; McEvoy, Oliver (Teagasc, 2001-01-01)
    The radical reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in the early 1990’s impacted directly and indirectly on most of the farm enterprises in Ireland. The direct focus of the reform was largely confined to the cereal and beef enterprises. The reforms consisted of: • A phased reduction in the institutional support prices for cereals and beef of the order of 30 per cent • A phased switch to a direct payment system of farm income support to compensate for the product price reductions. Most farms in Ireland have a cattle enterprise, either alone or in combination with other land using enterprises. Therefore, the reforms of the CAP affected almost all the farms in the country either directly or indirectly. For cattle farmers, the potential consequencee of these changes could be far reaching in terms of their magnitude and their permeation into the details of the husbandry practices of the production system(s) themselves. These changes clearly impact on the economic efficiency of beef systems without necessarily affecting technical efficiency of the systems. The economic optimum cattle production systems would thus be achieved by using the best mix of feed resource costs, carcass values and direct payments. The purpose of the study was to: • determine the economic impact on the cattle enterprise of the switch to: • lower EU prices for beef • lower EU prices for cereals and as a consequence a lower price for concentrate feeds • the direct payment system of income support • identify the economic optimum cattle production system(s) that would arise from these changes • quantify the sensitivity of the economic optimum system to key policy, economic and technical production variables.
  • Costs of cereal production in Ireland and selected EU member states

    Kelly, P.W.; Shanahan, Ultan (Teagasc, 2001-02-01)
    This study investigates the costs of production and producers margins for barley and wheat production in Ireland and some other EU member states. Ireland is compared with Germany, Denmark, France (for wheat only), the UK and Italy. The data used was from the Farm Accounts Data Network (FADN) of the EU and relates to the calendar year 1998. It is derived from specialist producers in the Cereals, Oilseeds and Protein (COP) sector.
  • Future Perspectives on Rural Areas.

    Commins, Patrick (Teagasc, 2001-02-01)
    The aim of this project was to project the potential impact of post-2000 economic and policy changes on Irish rural areas. It was intended originally to use a model-building approach in collaboration with the University of Missouri but this did not prove feasible. Instead, a possible scenario of future change for the rural economy was developed under four headings: • number of farms and the size of the farm labour force • agricultural structures • employment and enterprise • population and settlement. The scenario is based on assessment of current trends, on key assumptions about the future, and on the likely directions of relevant policies.
  • Farm Forestry: Land Availability, Take-up Rates and Economics.

    Frawley, J.P.; Leavy, A. (Teagasc, 2001-02-01)
    Of the Member States in the European Union Ireland has the lowest proportion of land area covered by forest. Given the large surpluses of agricultural commodities and expected future increases in farm productivity, less land resources will be needed to produce EU food requirements. The Irish government has, therefore, adopted a target to plant 25,000 ha of new forest annually to the year 2000 and thereafter a target of 20,000 ha annually. Substantial incentives to promote afforestation are in place, but with the exception of 1995, the area of land planted has been considerably below target. The objectives of this study is to examine (i) the availability of land for afforestation, (ii) the factors which impede or promote the uptake of forestry and (iii) the relative economic returns from forestry in a farm context. The availability of land via the market has steadily diminished between 1990 and 1998. The area of agricultural land sold in the period fell from 33,282 ha to 8,656 ha, a fall of 74 per cent. At the same time average price increased from £3,964 per ha to £6,865, an increase of 72 per cent. Surveys of the opinions of landholders indicate that attitudes toward afforestation are becoming more positive in the 1990s. This is reflected in a substantial increase in the area of farm forestry during the decade. However, a survey of opinions of farmers who had already planted forestry indicated a perception that it is not a suitable replacement for conventional farm enterprises on `good' farmland. Land planted in 78 per cent of sites in this survey was previously utilised as either summer grazing or rough grazing. The principal motivation for planting was the favourable returns to forestry on land that had limited alternative use. The relative economic returns of forestry in comparison with farm enterprises such as dairying and cattle were assessed post CAP reform (2007), using linear programming techniques. Scenarios involved alternative uses of the farm resources such as extensive/intensive land use, forestry/no forestry and off farm job/no off farm job. The objective was to examine the profitability of forestry on farms in situations in which livestock enterprises qualified for REPS and extensification payments and in which off farm jobs were (a) not available and (b) available at different wage levels. Non economic considerations, such as the perceived unsuitability of forestry as a replacement for agricultural enterprises on `good' land and the irrevocability of the decision to plant forestry could, come into play. In order to reflect these non-economic considerations, together with the higher risk associated with investment by individuals, a high discount rate (10%) was used in calculating returns to forestry. The analysis shows that in situations in which off farm jobs are either not available or are available at a low wage level, extensification and REPS payments enable efficient livestock enterprises to compete with forestry. In these situations forestry is a profit maximiser only on farms which have surplus land, having first qualified for both extensification and REPS on existing livestock enterprises. However, the availability of off farm earnings at or near the industrial wage rate leads to increases in the forestry area, sometimes to the exclusion of cattle enterprises. Economic criteria therefore could mean that large areas of land could be transferred to forestry from conventional agriculture in the post 1999 CAP reform situation. Economics may not, however, be the most appropriate arbiter of such a decision.
  • The Socio-economic Sustainability of Rural Areas in Ireland

    Leavy, A. (Teagasc, 2001-04-01)
    Over the period 1971 to 1996 District Electoral Divisions (DEDs) with the highest rate of decline in population and employment tended to be most widespread in western and north-western counties.In these DEDs average population declined by 19 per cent and average employment by 24 per cent. • Average population increased by 65 per cent and employment increased by 77 per cent in DEDs close to large urban centres.Ap proximately 90 per cent of the increase in both population and employment occurred in these areas. • Leitrim (73 per cent) and Cavan (67 per cent) had the highest proportion of District Electoral Divisions (DEDs) that lost both population and employment in the 1971-1996 period.The counties of Kildare (7 per cent) and Wexford (11 per cent) had the lowest proportion of DEDs losing both population and employment. • Approximately half of DEDs in the Objective 1 region (west, midlands and border region) lost both population and employment in the 1971-96 period. • In the most recent five year inter-census period (1991-96), while population declined in 60 per cent of DEDs, only 20 per cent of DEDs lost employment. However, 100 per cent of population growth and 90 per cent of employment growth occurred in peri-urban areas in the 1991-96 period. • Areas with the most serious history of decline were classified into: (a) Farm Dependent situated in all areas of the country but remote from urban areas, (b) Low Density populated areas situated mainly in inland areas of the west and north-west, and (c) Peripheral areas situated mainly in the coastal regions of the west and north-west. • Optimum use of resources (principally land and labour) in areas with a history of long term decline could result in increases in gross revenue of 25 to 45 per cent.T he principal changes in resource use involve increases in off farm employment opportunities, participation by farmers in extensification and REPS programmes and the reallocation of land classified as rough grazing to forestry. • The challenge facing the various agencies involved in rural development is to ensure that development is widely spread to areas that have formerly suffered considerable decline.
  • Economic Analysis of Policy Changes in the Dairy Sector

    Donnellan, Trevor; Fingelton, William (Teagasc, 2001-04-01)
    This study examines the effect of changes in agricultural policy and other important economic factors on the outlook for milk production in Ireland in future years. The analysis is conducted at an aggregate milk and dairy commodity level. A companion report provides similar detail on related farm level work. Following an initial period of development, the analysis summarised here took place over a period of three years. The potential effect of the European Commission’s proposed changes to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) under Agenda 2000 are examined, as is the eventual Agenda 2000 Agreement produced in Berlin in March of 1999. The implications for the dairy sector of differing future euro/dollar exchange rate paths are also analysed. A series of interlinked economic models capable of projecting key price and output variables were built for the main Irish agricultural commodities, including the dairy sector, and these in turn were linked with models for the EU and the World. It was thus possible to estimate the implications for the Irish dairy sector of supply, demand and policy changes at a world and EU level. It was found that the reform of the CAP in the dairy sector would lead to a reduction in the Irish milk price of 11 per cent relative to the outcome if the reforms were not introduced. However, increases in quota and the availability of compensation following from the Berlin Agreement should offset much of this decline. The effect of the future exchange rate between the euro and the US dollar was of significant importance. Other things being equal, a weaker euro made EU dairy exports more competitive outside of the EU, resulted in less pressure on the CAP budget and ultimately would produce more favourable milk prices than would be the case under a stronger euro. The analysis shows that a difference of 20 per cent in the euro/dollar exchange rate would result in a 7 per cent difference in milk price.
  • Inter-Country Cost Comparisons in Beef.

    Dunne, William; Murphy, H.; O'Connell, J.J.; Drennan, Michael J; Keane, Michael G. (Teagasc, 2001-05-01)
    The purpose of this study was to: • establish the competitiveness of the Irish beef production systems post the 1992 CAP reform • quantify how Irish beef production costs, and cost components, compare with those for the other EU countries • determine the strengths and weaknesses of the Irish production systems.

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