My Department is aware of the report referred to by the Deputy. The term ‘small farm’ has different meanings in different countries, so I think it is more meaningful to focus on the distinction between family farms and large-scale corporate farms.
In relation to Ireland, the CSO’s Census of Agriculture in 2010 showed that there were almost 140,000 farms in Ireland, a decline of only 1% in farm numbers since the previous Census of Agriculture in 2000. The average farm size in 2010 was 32.7 hectares, and 99.8% of farms were in family ownership. I am confident that the CAP reform agreement successfully concluded during the Irish Presidency last year will ensure a range of supports for family farming in Ireland and in the EU as a whole.
On the global scale, given that there are 500 million family farms in the world, the sustainable development of agricultural productivity on family farms must be a priority if global issues associated with food and nutrition security, poverty and hunger are to be addressed. In this regard Ireland supports the introduction of policies targeted at family farmers which facilitate access to land, water, finance, and appropriate mechanisms for knowledge and technology transfer. In particular, as women make up 43% of the global agriculture labour force and their role in family farms is crucial to farm productivity, policies aimed at reducing the gender gap in terms of access to resources and opportunities for women should be prioritised.
2014 has been designated as International Year of the Family Farm and events have taken place in Ireland and internationally to highlight the importance of this topic.