Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Questions (1175)

Mattie McGrath

Question:

1175. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if his attention has been drawn to the findings of the Western Development Commission, which has estimated that the number of persons working in agriculture in the west has decreased by 41% in the past 20 years; if his Department holds similar data for the other regions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19255/19]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The Western Development Commission's (WDC) report “Agriculture, Forestry & Fishing Employment in the Western Region” uses national census population data from 1996 to 2016. As the data used is drawn from the Census of Population, it counts people who recorded their main economic status as being at work in a particular sector.

My Department uses statistics from a number of sources, including the Census of Agriculture, which is carried out by the CSO every ten years, the latest one in 2010. The table below shows the number of family farms based on the 1991, 2000 and 2010 agricultural census.

Agriculture Census - CSO - Family Farms

1991

2000

2000/1991 % Change

2010

2010/2000 % Change

Clare

8,229

6,720

-18%

6,550

-3%

Galway

16,244

13,662

-16%

13,445

-2%

Leitrim

4,516

3,724

-18%

3,673

-1%

Mayo

14,909

12,537

-16%

12,458

-1%

Roscommon

7,811

6,434

-18%

6,313

-2%

Sligo

5,524

4,505

-18%

4,395

-2%

Donegal

10,228

8,805

-14%

9,240

5%

Total farms in WDC area

67,461

56,387

-16%

56,074

-1%

*Note some changes in CSO methodology after the 2000 Census of Agriculture

The WDC report shows that there were 24,448 people who recorded their primary economic activity as agriculture, forestry or fishing in 2011, while the Census of Agriculture found that there were 56,074 family farms in the western region in 2010. This suggests that many farmholders did not record farming as their main activity in the census.

The Teagasc National Farm Survey 2017 shows that 43% of farmers in the Border region and 39% of farmers in the West region had off-farm employment.

I think it is important that we take account of part-time farmers in terms of analysis and planning for the future, in order to assist these farmers to make their farming enterprise as efficient and profitable as possible.