Survey finds 49pc are open to cutting herd numbers while 60pc would consider an early retirement scheme
Almost half (49pc) of all farmers say they would reduce their livestock numbers if the Government paid them to, with that number dropping slightly to 44pc among beef farmers.
According to a survey conducted by the Farming Independent at last week’s Ploughing Championships, 51pc of dairy farmers said they would consider the idea of reducing their livestock numbers compared to 46pc of beef farmers.
It also found that 60pc of all farmers said they would consider an early retirement scheme if there was one available, although only 47pc of sheep farmers would consider an early retirement scheme.
When it comes to succession, 55pc have someone to take over the farm, while 33pc of farmers over 65 don’t have someone to take over the farm.
The survey of 400 farmers found that just over one third (35pc) have not taken a holiday this year and almost half (49pc) of those aged 65 and over have not. Just over 60pc said the national mainstream media does not cover agriculture fairly.
It also found that almost 39pc of farmers say they would consider converting to organic (39pc), while 13pc say they don’t know enough about the scheme.
Half of all beef farmers say they would consider converting, while only 22pc of dairy farmers say they would consider converting. For sheep farmers, 33.3pc say they would consider converting, but 41pc say they would not, while 40pc of mixed farmers say they would consider converting and 38pc of tillage farmers would.
The interest in organic farming increased as the farm size decreased, with almost 50pc of farmers with less than 50ac saying they would consider moving to organic production.
Of the survey respondents, 40pc say they go to a religious service every week: 66pc of over 65-year-old farmers go every week, while of (all) those over 55 years of age, 52pc go to a religious service weekly.
The number of farmers going to Mass or church every week has dropped since 2017 when the Farming Independent conducted a similar survey which found that 60pc of respondents went to a religious service weekly.
When it comes to politics, Fine Gael remains farmers’ first preference, with 29pc of respondents saying they would vote for Fine Gael if there was an election next week.
Fianna Fáil garnered 17pc of the vote, while 15pc say they would vote Sinn Féin — up from six per cent in a similar survey conducted by the Farming Independent in 2017.
Back in 2017, Fine Gael was also the most popular party amongst farmers surveyed, with 32pc of respondents saying they would vote for the party.
Again, Fianna Fáil was second, with 25pc of respondents saying they would vote for them.
Of all farmers surveyed, almost half (49pc) said children under 16 years of age should be allowed drive tractors on the farm unsupervised. The percentage in favour jumped to 71pc among 18 to 24-year-old farmers and dropped to just 38pc among those aged 65 and over.
Overall, 81pc of farmers said they would consider putting in solar panels, and dairy farmers were the most likely with 88pc of them saying they would consider it.
On a scale of one to 10, the Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue scored a five amongst all farmers surveyed, with tillage farmers rating him slightly higher, giving him a six.