There has been a dramatic decrease in the number of work permits granted for the agriculture sector in the first five months of 2023.

A record number of employment work permits were issued for the agriculture sector last year with 1,407 permits issued in April alone, the highest number issued compared with any other month.

However, this year that figure is down 82% to a low of 253 work permits.

The low figures this year can also be seen for the month of May where there was a 90% decrease in work permits being issued for the sector. Last year, some 877 permits were issued compared to this year where only 91 permits were issued for the same month.

Beef processors

The months of March, April and May saw only some of the main meat processors using the work permit facilities. The Larry Goodman-owned Anglo Beef Processors (ABP) had only one permit issued during this time period, while Slaney Foods, also owned by Goodman, received three.

Across all of the Kepak facilities, 24 work permits were issued during this three-month period. However, larger numbers were seen by Dawn Meats and Liffey Meats. In March, Dawn Meats was issued with 21 permits and was granted 51 work permits in April. This is a total of 72 permits and none was issued for the month of May.

Liffey Meats (Cavan) was the meat processing plant which received the highest number of permits, with 75 issued.


The use of the work permit system is much lower in the dairy industry. Dairygold co-op used the system the least, receiving only one permit, followed by Kerry Group which was issued with four permits during the months of March, April and May. Glanbia was the highest milk processing company with eight employment work permits being issued.

Farm Solutions Ltd specialises in the provision of farm managers, herd managers and general farm workers selected to work on dairy, beef, sheep, arable and pig farms in Ireland. It received 24 permits under this system in the three-month period.


The number of work permits issued up to 1 June this year for the agriculture sector stands at 1,870 fewer than the same time last year when 2,853 were issued. It accounts for a 66% decrease in workers for the agricultural sector under the permit system.