The vast scale of agricultural activity in Co Cork is reflected in a Department of Agriculture publication outlining scheme payments by county in 2021.

As detailed in the table below, farmers in Cork generated payments of just shy of €190m in 2021.

This is some €50m higher than the €140m in payments generated by farmers in Co Galway.

The high level of payments in Cork is helped by a large population of dairy cows, suckler cows and sheep, much of which is farmed in an intensive manner and a mixture of more marginal lands capable of generating significant agri-environment payments.

Agri-environmental schemes

Along with Cork and Galway, the only other counties generating payments in excess of €100m in 2021 were Mayo (€125.6m), Tipperary (€112.8m) and Kerry (€104.7m).

These counties again have high livestock populations and are also receiving high payments through the Areas of Natural Constraint and agri-environmental schemes.

Organics scheme

The organics scheme was in the spotlight this week, following the announcement that it has reopened for another intake of farmers. Cork is again the primary beneficiary, with payments of almost €800,000 in 2021.

Unusually, farmers in Roscommon generated the second highest level of payments of €578,910, while farmers in Tipperary, Limerick and Galway also generated payments in excess of €400,000.

Straw Incorporation Scheme

The Straw Incorporation Scheme payments were a new addition in 2021. Farmers in Wexford achieved the highest level of payments of almost €1.44m, with farmers in Meath also generating payments in excess of the €1m mark.

Four counties generated no payments under the scheme in 2021, while seven counties generated no payments under the Protein Aid scheme.