Irish farmers receive an average nominal gross hourly wage of €12.10/hour for paid labour, the latest European Commission EU Farm Economics Overview report has found.

This is above the national minimum wage in Ireland of €10.20/hour.?

The report shows that the nominal gross wage for paid labour in farming in the EU has increased by 75% since 2007, rising from €5 to €8.70/hour.

Published this month, the data is based on 2018 European-wide data.

There is no direct link between Basic Payment Scheme and wages, the authors of the report said. “However, as it is the case also for other receipts, we can say that direct payments contribute to covering farms’ costs (which can include wages).”

The highest rate paid that year was in Denmark, at €24.60, and the lowest in Romania at €2.50. The report compared data from 2007 to 2018, the latest available final data in the Farm Accountancy Data Network (FADN).

The income per average EU farm, expressed as average farm net value added (FNVA), which is farm output plus subsidies and VAT minus depreciation, taxes and inputs, rose from €28,800 in 2007 to €35,300 between 2007 and 2018, due to an increase in the value of both crop and livestock output by 34% and 36%, respectively.

Ireland was below the EU average in 2018, with an average FNVA of €28,222.

The highest income was in Slovakia, with an average income of €198,500, while Slovenia had the lowest with average incomes under €8,000.

In 2018, direct payments on average accounted for 28% of FNVA in the EU, the same percentage as in 2017. At EU level, farms run by 40-year-old managers or younger have the lowest income on average, followed by farms run by managers above 60, it found.


The average number of workers employed per farm in the EU stood at 1.6 annual work units (AWU) in 2018. However, the average labour input varied considerably across countries, ranging from 10.6 AWU per farm in Slovakia to one AWU in Greece.

Ireland was below the EU average with 1.1 AWU.

In Ireland over 90% of labour on farms is family farm labour, the second highest in the EU.

Family labour accounts for the largest share of the agricultural labour force in most member states.

Livestock, mixed farms and dairy farms had the highest proportion of family labour.

Farm size

The average farm size (including owned and rented) covered by the survey was 37ha in 2018. However, this average size varied considerably across member states, ranging from 445ha per farm in Slovakia to 3ha per farm in Malta. Ireland’s average farm size was 49ha. More than half of the agricultural area used in the EU was rented (56%) in 2018. Ireland had one of the lowest amounts of rented land at 19%.

The Farm Accountancy Data Network (FADN) is a European system of sample surveys that are run each year to collect structural and accountancy data from farms.

The sample for 2018 consisted of approximately 80,400 farms in the EU, which represent more than 3.9m of the almost 10.3m farms included in the Farm Structure Survey (FSS) 2016.

Farms with output of less than €4,000 are not included.