Deadline to return Census of Agriculture is this week

The deadline for all farms to complete and return the Census of Agriculture 2020 is this Thursday (September 17).

Almost 140,000 farms received the Census of Agriculture questionnaire by post in the first week of September.

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) announced back in April that it would defer the collection of data for the census due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The collection was initially due to begin on June 1 this year.

According to the CSO, in order to make it easier for people, the number of pages in the questionnaire has been reduced from eight pages to four.

Farmers are required by law to answer the census. Under the Statistics Act 1993, the information provided by farmers to the CSO will be strictly confidential and only be used for statistical purposes.

The census pack that farmers received contains a four-page questionnaire, information leaflet and a freepost return envelope.

Questions in the farm census are organised into three sections:
  • Farm management – farm holder, farm manager and training of the manager;
  • Livestock and poultry totals – cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, poultry and other livestock;
  • Land use – area owned, area farmed, area rented in, area rented out and grassland in the 2020 season.

The EU-wide census is aimed at collecting, processing and publishing data on farming in each EU member state. The census uses several methods, including (in normal years at least) interviews with farmers.

Before the Covid-19 outbreak, some 10.5 million farmers across the EU were expected to be involved in the process.

Each of the member states are tasked with collecting set data for farmers and farms above certain physical thresholds in their country.

This information was first gathered in Ireland in 1847 and since then has been collected every 10 years.