The number of people attaining a Green Cert qualification has taken a “post-pandemic dip”, according to Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín.

The comments follow a parliamentary question posed by the Meath West TD to Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue on the number of Teagasc graduates who attained trained farmer status since 2013.

The data shows that there were 1,716 graduates last year, which followed 1,497 graduates in 2021.

In comparison, the number of graduates between 2018-2020 stood at over 2,000 annually.


Commenting on the statistics, Deputy Tóibín claimed that “droves of young people from farming families are hitting for Australia each week”.

“The farming way of life isn’t attractive to them – due to the poor price for beef, the rising input costs like fertiliser and so on.

“An awful lot of farmers currently feel trapped in the sector – farmers who the government encouraged to get into dairy, who are now being threatened with talk of a cull of the national herd, and punished with carbon taxes,” he said.

Deputy Tóibín said that some beef farmers also feel “trapped” after being “encouraged by the factories to increase their herds”.

He claimed that “higher prices per beast were dangled in front of them [farmers] only to find the price dropping, as soon as they are in debt with renting land, and they’re in so much debt that they cannot back out”.

Green cert

“Young lads and girls up and down the country are witnessing late night arguments between their parents over rising farm debts, and they’re opting to get as far away from this country as they can.

“It is heart-breaking – especially for families who’ve had the farm for multiple generations,” the Aontú leader added.

Toíbín said he did not find the drop in the number of Green Certs being issued surprising.

“These statistics don’t even show the full scale of the problem of youth emigration among young farmers – because many are getting the qualification before they leave for inheritance tax reasons.

“Aontú is calling on the government to properly examine the rate of youth emigration from farming families, and for the government to determine also the suicide rate among farmers,” he said.

Aontú has proposed a bill seeking a ban on the below cost selling of beef which the party said “would ensure that farmers get at least a breakeven price for their produce”.