The 2016 Farm Structure Survey (FSS), published recently by the Central Statistics Office (CSO), has found that of the 137,500 farms in Ireland in 2016, 137,100 of these were classified as family farms.
In 30% of farms, the holder was aged 65 or older, while in just 5% of farms the holder was under the age of 35. More than half (55%) of all farm holders were 55 years or older.
About one in eight (11.7%) of family farm holders were female.
In addition, the average farm size was 32.4 hectares.
According to statistician Cathal Doherty:
“One third of farms had land which was rented in, amounting to a total of 830,500 hectares. About 20,000 rented more than half the land they farmed and 5,700 farms rented all of the land they farmed.
“Just over half of farmers (53%) viewed farming as a sole occupation, a quarter as a major occupation and the remainder as a subsidiary occupation.
“One in eight farms had other gainful activity on the farm as a supplement to traditional farming. Forestry was the principal on farm non-agricultural activity, followed by agricultural contracting, other contracting, processing farm products and farm tourism.”
The most common type of farming in Ireland was Specialist Beef Production. Over 72,400 farms engaged in this activity. Meanwhile, there were 16,700 Specialist Dairy Farms.
There was almost 4.9 million hectares of Agricultural Area Used (AAU) in 2016. Almost 4.1 million of this was grassland.
In relation to animals, Mr Doherty added:
“There were 7.2 million cattle in 2016, including 1.4 million dairy cows. There was a total of 5.1 million sheep, 1.6 million pigs, and almost 11.1 million poultry on Irish farms in 2016.”
The average Standard Output per farm was €45,945. Three out of every ten farms had a Standard Output of less than €8,000, while one in five had a Standard Output of €50,000 or more.
In total, approximately 55,000 farms were asked to participate in the 2016 Farm Structure Survey and a response rate in excess of 70% was achieved.
Mr Doherty concluded by saying:
“The next Agriculture Survey to be undertaken by the CSO, the June 2018 Crops and Livestock Survey, will be sent to a sample of approximately 10,000 farms by the end of May.”