The family farm income of three out of every four of the country’s small farms did not exceed €5,000 in 2022, according to the results of a new Teagasc study carried out on National Farm Survey (NFS) data.

Teagasc defines a small farm in economic terms as having an output lower than €8,000/year.

Some 48,000 of the country’s 135,000 farms are below this threshold, with the majority being sheep and cattle farmers.

Over half of these farms are in the north and west, another third in southern counties, and the remaining 15% in the midlands and east.

Half of these farms are below 10ha in size, another one-third are between 10ha and 20ha, with the remainder being larger than 20ha.

Survey figures show that the average family farm income on small cattle and sheep farms came to €2,638 in 2022, which is only around one-sixth of the NFS average for these farm types.

The average family farm income was €4,474 in 2022 for small farms which leased some lands, rising above average small cattle and sheep farmer incomes due to rental payments.

Small farms were found to have an average farm size of 13ha, cover a combined 15% of the country’s farmland and have typical herd sizes of five suckler cows, 12 finishing cattle or 20 ewes.

The number of small farms in output terms is down from almost 60,000 reported in 2010, although an increase in farmgate prices since has pushed some of these farms’ output values above the €8,000/year threshold.