Census of Agriculture 2020- Over 278,000 people worked on farms in 2020

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) has today (26 May 2022) launched the Detailed Results of the 2020 Census of Agriculture. 

Nearly 278,000 people worked on farms in 2020, according to the detailed results of the Census of Agriculture by the Central Statistics Office (CSO).

Just under 278,600 individuals contributed to farm work in 2020 on around 130,200 farms over 5 hectares in size.

Males accounted for 73% of these people, as well as 80% of the volume of farm labour, in terms of annual work units (AWUs).

A total of 1,686 farms had organic farming activity of livestock or land utilised in 2020.

More than half (53%) of farm holders stated that farming was their sole occupation and less than half (46%) of farm holders had a succession plan in place.

The mean gross production (standard output) per farm was €48,380 while half of the farms had a standard output equal to or less than €13,566 (median standard output).

Sophie Emerson, Statistician in the Agriculture Division, said: “The Census of Agriculture provides a snapshot of the agricultural activity on Irish farms in 2020. This census of farming is taken every 10 years and it includes statistics on farm structure, farmer demographics, livestock and land utilisation on farms. Preliminary results of this census were published in December:

Some of the key statistics announced by the CSO include:

Organic Farming

  • A total of 1,686 farms had an organic farming activity of livestock or land utilised in 2020.
  • The AAU for organic farming was 73,800 hectares or 1.6% of the total AAU of 4.5 million hectares.
  • The number of fully converted organic farm holdings was 1,540, just above 91% of all organic farm holdings.
  • Almost all (96%) of the total organic AAU in the state consisted of grassland; the remainder of organic AAU was mainly cereals.
  • There were 51,685 organic cattle on 1,157 farm holdings in 2020, 5.5% of these were dairy cows, 34.1% were other cows, and 60.4% were other cattle.
  • There were 74,870 organic sheep on 378 flocks in 2020.

Agricultural Labour Input

  • More than 278,600 persons contributed to farm work in 2020, on 130,200 farms (of more than five hectares).
  • Of the 278,600 persons contributing to farm work, 47% (130,200) were the farm holders, 41% (114,300) were family members, and the remaining 12% were non-family workers (34,100).
  • More than half (53%) of farm holders stated that farming was their sole occupation while more than one quarter (26%) regarded it as a subsidiary occupation.
  • Males accounted for 73% of persons working on farms and 80% of the volume of farm labour (Annual Work Units).
  • Less than half (46%) of farm holders had a succession plan in place and 98% of these had named a family member as the successor.

Animal Housing and Manure Management

  • Cover liquid manure or slurry storage facilities were the most widely used manure storage facility on-farm holdings in 2020.
  • Storage of solid manure in heaps was the next most widely used manure storage facility in 2020.
  • Six out of every ten cattle houses in Ireland (62.9%) were classified as ‘Loose/Cubicle solid floor’ type houses.
  • Similarly, just below 90% of the pig houses (88.9%) were classified as ‘Loose/Cubicle solid floor’ type houses.

Standard Output

  • In 2020, the mean gross production (standard output) per farm was €48,380. Half of the farms had a standard output equal to or less than €13,566 (median standard output).
  • On farms under 10 hectares, the mean standard output was €12,557, while the mean standard output on farms above 100 hectares was €276,891.
  • Specialist Dairying and Other farm systems had the largest mean standard output in 2020, with €209,006 and €338,416 respectively.
  • Farms with higher gross production (standard output) are generally larger areas: farms with Standard Output between €50,000 and €100,000 had an average AAU of 57.9ha. Those with Standard Output over €100,000 had an average AAU of 82.5ha.
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