Despite a dire economic recession, Irish farmers saw huge rises in income in 2010, a rare bright sector for an economy that has undergone massive deflation.

According to first estimates issued by Eurostat, the statistics office of the European Union, after a 2009 decrease of 10.7%, 2010 saw an increase of 12.3% of real agricultural income per worker in the EU27. Ireland’s farm incomes rose 39.1% this year.

In 2009, the European Commission the EU’s 27 national governments were prompted by falling farm prices and farmers’ protests to provide new price support measures. Milk prices rose 9.4% in 2010, so countries with lots of dairy farms saw the highest rise in farm incomes per worker. Apart from Ireland, the countries Denmark, Estonia, and the Netherlands also experienced an income increase.

The US has about 60,000 dairy farms compared with 1.4m in the EU from about 2m agricultural enterprises.