Cropped 22 Jan 2024

Operating Surplus of Irish Agri falls by 36% in two years – ICMSA say “dashboard lights turning Red and blinking fast”.

The President of ICMSA, Denis Drennan, has said that “the dashboard lights are turning Red and blinking fast” after the CSO’s Agriculture Estimates for 2023 show a collapse in the sector’s operating surplus by 36% in just two years.

Referring to data published today by CSO as ‘Output, Input and Income in Agriculture – Preliminary Estimate 2023’ shows a headline decrease in the operating surplus of Irish Agriculture from €3, 678.1 billion in 2021 to an estimated €3,023.3 billion this year, a fall of 35.9%.  Mr Drennan noted that the single biggest sectoral component of the fall was the decline in the value of dairy output and though the value of milk could be perceived to have ‘spiked’ in 2021, the fall since was as much a function of policy disfunction as it was market sentiment.

“ICMSA has signalled repeatedly over the last two years that completely avoidable structural harm was being done to the dairy sector – the ‘jewel’ in Ireland’s food production crown – through contradictory and fundamentally unsound policy and restrictions. That most of this damage arose from ideological animosity to farming and a profound misunderstanding of workable timelines around farming makes it even more disappointing and regrettable. We have lost approximately half a billion from our farming and agri sectors in about two years and there’s no reason to suppose that it will stop there. Certainly, there’s no reason based on the succession of incorrect and downright wrong decisions that we’ve had from the Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine recently”, observed Mr. Drennan.

Mr. Drennan said that the lamentable performance arose from what he said was a mistaken perception that climate progress could only be achieved at the expense of farming and Ireland’s food sector. “We have been pointing out now for the best part of a decade that this is not a binary; this is not a choice between Sustainability and Food, both are attainable and, in fact, both are being attained, even as we speak. But the constant haranguing and deliberate reliance on outdated data and impossible timelines is being weaponised into giving an erroneous impression”, said Mr. Drennan.

“These figures should make every Department official and rural TD sit up straight and focus very quickly. Can you imagine the outcry if, say, the value of Irish pharma or Tech had collapsed by 36% in two years? The dashboard lights are turning Red and blinking fast. It’s just a question now of whether the Government wants to see them or whether we wait for the engine of rural Ireland to be damaged beyond repair”, concluded Mr. Drennan.

Ends          11 March 2024

Denis Drennan, 086-8389401

President, ICMSA.


Cathal MacCarthy, 087-6168758

ICMSA Press Office