Wednesday, 20th June 2012
Dr Ailish Byrne, Senior Agricultural Manager, Ulster Bank with Mike Brady (left) President Agricultural Consultants Association and Dr Pat Bogue, Broadmore Research at the launch of the Ulster Bank survey on farmers' expansion plans. The survey was conducted by Broadmore Research on behalf of Ulster Bank, in association with the Agricultural Consultants Association.
Farmers are planning increases of 52% in milk output, 40% in beef output and almost 60% in sheep numbers between now and 2021, according to the results of a nationwide survey.
The expansion plans are exactly in line with the Food Harvest 2020 report which sets a target of increases of 50% in milk and 40% in beef output by 2020 and are substantially higher than the 20% targeted increase in sheep output.
The survey was conducted by Dr Pat Bogue of Broadmore Research on behalf of Ulster Bank among a representative sample of 275 farmers. It was conducted in association with the Agricultural Consultants Association whose members provide professional advisory and consultancy services to all survey participants.
Seventeen out of 20 dairy farmers surveyed plan to increase milk output, with an overall increase of 42% in cow numbers and 52% in milk output by 2021. By 2015, the expected increase is 22% for cow numbers and 24% for milk output.
Just over 60% of beef farmers surveyed plan to increase stock numbers by an average of 69% by 2021, giving an overall national increase of 40%. The planned national increase in stock
numbers by 2015 is 22%.
Almost 60% of sheep farmers surveyed plan to double their flock size on average by 2021, giving an increase of 59% in the national sheep flock. The planned increase by 2015 is 38%. These figures are substantially higher than the Food Harvest 2020 target of a 20% increase in the national sheep flock.
Just 6% of non-dairy farmers would consider converting to dairying when milk quotas are removed in 2015.
Nine out of 10 farmers surveyed plan to invest in livestock, housing, slurry storage or
machinery over the next three years. The mix of funding for investment and expansion is farm cash flow (41%), borrowing (38%), savings (14%) and off-farm income (7%).
Land availability, especially in dairy farming, and access to finance were identified as the main limiting factors to expansion.
Dr Ailish Byrne, Senior Agricultural Manager, Ulster Bank, said the results highlight the
progressive and commercial nature of today's farmers which will drive expansion in output over the coming years.
The survey participants are farming an average of 160 acres of which 122 acres is owned. More than half are renting land. The sample had a younger age profile than the national average, with 36% over 55, compared to the national figure of 50%.
One-third of respondents had another source of income in the form of an off-farm job or other business, made up of 45% of drystock farmers and just 18% of dairy farmers.
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