Large number of small farms now reliant on pensions and social welfare
A new Teagasc study has highlighted that half of all Small Farms are in an economically vulnerable position.
According to the study, the average income on Ireland’s smallest farms is just €2,917, but just 45% of them have another source of employment.
The results come from a special survey of Small Farms by Teagasc. Small Farms were defined as those with less than €8,000 of agricultural output, such as 14 suckler cows or less.
Despite being small, there are over 50,000 of these farms, mostly Cattle and Sheep farms spread across the Border and Western regions, and making up 37% of all farms nationally.
Speaking at a conference on Rural Viability taking place at Teagasc Ashtown, Dublin, today, Thursday, 5 October, Teagasc economist Dr Emma Dillon noted that “The average size of small farms is just 14 hectares and as a result their farm incomes are very low due to both their small size and low intensity of production.”
Although just 45% of operators of Small Farms have an off-farm job, Emma Dillon noted that one-third of them were over 65 years of age with a large number relying on pensions and social welfare.
Despite the low levels of economic viability, Brian Moran of the Teagasc National Farm Survey said that 80% of small farmers said that they planned to continue farming.
The study also examined quality of life in rural areas and concluded that almost two-thirds of small farmers reported deterioration in their sense of security in their home in the last 5 years.