33% of Irish farms included rented land in 2016

A total of 33% of Irish farms included land which was rented in 2016, the results of the Farm Structure Survey (FSS) found.

Findings from the 2016 FFS were published today by the Central Statistics Office (CSO).

The amount of land rented in that year equated to a total of 830,500ha, according to statistician Cathal Doherty.

As well as this, about 20,000 farms were made up of more than 50% rented land in that year, while 5,700 farms consisted of entirely rented land, he added.

Key statistics from the survey include:
  • There were 137,500 farms in Ireland in 2016, of which 137,100 were family farms;
  • The average farm size was 32.4ha;
  • There was almost 4.9 million hectares of Agricultural Area Used (AAU) in 2016 – with almost 4.1 million of this classified as grassland;
  • In 30% of farms, the holder was aged 65 or older;
  • Just under one in eight (11.7%) of the 137,100 family farm holders were female;
  • There were 7.2 million cattle, 5.1 million sheep, 1.6 million pigs and almost 11.1 million poultry on Irish farms in 2016.

Commenting on the survey results, Doherty said: “Specialist beef production was the most common type of farming in Ireland, with over 72,400 farms engaged in this activity. There were 16,700 specialist dairy farms.

“The average standard output per farm was €45,945. Three out of every 10 farms had a standard output of less than €8,000, while one in five had a standard output of €50,000 or more.

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.

“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,” he said.

In total, approximately 55,000 farms were asked to participate in the 2016 FFS and a response rate in excess of 70% was achieved.

Concluding, Doherty said: “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. The CSO urges those included in this sample survey to respond.”