Proceedings

PR – Financial Returns From Organic V Conventional Cattle Rearing Systems

Production of organic food continues to grow on a worldwide basis, as consumer awareness of, and demand for organic food increases. However, the Irish organic market has been slow to develop with a limited uptake in organic production by farmers. The main objective of this project is to compare the financial performance of organic cattle production to conventional production. Data on the financial and technical performance of the cattle rearing system were collected from organic farms participating in the joint Department of Agriculture and Food (DAF) and Teagasc Organic Monitor Farm Project. Data were analysed on the selected farms using the Teagasc National Farm Survey (NFS) farm recorders and recording system. Data on a sample of 11 organic cattle rearing farms were collected in 2005. The results for these farms are compared to conventional cattle rearing farms recorded in the 2005 NFS. The data show higher output on the conventional farms due mainly to higher “market” output combined with higher Direct Payments. Direct costs were €82 per ha on the organic farms compared to €260/ha on the conventional farms but gross margin/ha remained higher on the conventional farms due to the higher output. However, higher overhead costs on the conventional farms results in Family Farm Income/ha being higher on the organic farms. Cash income/ha was also higher for the organic group. Organic producers had a more viable socio-economic profile, whilst technical performance was higher on the conventional farms.

Keywords: Organic cattle, conventional beef, profitability.

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Author(s): Connolly, L., Moran, B.

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Organizations(s): Farm Management Department, Teagasc, RERC, Athenry