The average family farm income rose by 27% to €34,719 in 2021, the final results of Teagasc’s national farm survey (NFS) have confirmed.

A significant lift in farm output prices resulted in an increase in incomes in grassland and tillage farms, despite last year’s hike in input and production costs, the survey found.

The NFS results, which are representative of almost 85,000 farms nationally, show that the average dairy farm income in 2021 was €98,745. This is up 25% on the 2020 level, with the improved performance reflective of stronger milk prices, increased cow numbers and better yields.

Tillage incomes

Income levels on tillage farms also rebounded from the disappointing returns of 2020. The average income on tillage farms was €57,939. This was an increase of 74% on the 2020 level.

In drystock systems, sheep farms continued to fare better than cattle farms in 2021. The average sheep farm income in 2021 was €20,794, an increase of 16% on the 2020 level.

Meanwhile, the average income in the cattle rearing and cattle other (mainly beef finishing) systems in 2021 were €10,865 and €17,223 respectively. These represented increases of 29% and 11% respectively on the 2020 level.


Enterprise fact sheets, which are based on the results of the NFS, show significant increases in on-farm expenditure last year, both in direct costs such as feed, fertiliser and fuel, and fixed costs such as building and machinery depreciation.

Milk production costs rose by over 10% to almost 27c/l. Meanwhile, costs per hectare for single suckling and cattle finishing increased by 10% and 13% respectively.

Costs per hectare on lowland sheep enterprises rose by 19%, while production costs per hectare for spring barley and winter wheat rose by 18% and 21% respectively.

Taking an overall look at farm returns, the country’s 15,300 commercial dairy holdings accounted for half of the income generated in Irish agriculture in 2021.

Just over 48,200 cattle farms in the NFS produced a further 25% of agricultural income, with the remaining 24% split between tillage, sheep and mixed livestock farms.