Some 91% of small farmers see quality of life as being more important than the income they receive from farming, according to Teagasc’s Small Farm Survey.

The survey found that the reasons many small farmers continue to farm despite low average incomes include keeping farming traditions, helping to maintain the environment and for their enjoyment of farm work.

Nine in 10 of those surveyed reported that enjoying farming was either important or very important to them.

A similar number placed importance on farming allowing them to engage with environmentally-friendly practices.

Only a quarter of those surveyed did not see farming as being important to allowing their family members to build on land owned by the family and seven in every eight put some importance on their farm remaining within the family on their retirement. The Teagasc research also found that one in every three small farmers did not have daily contact with anyone outside of their immediate farm household.

Social engagement

Some 28% of small farmers said that they are in contact with individuals outside of their household two to three times a week, with another 5% only having such contact one day per week.

A further 1% stated that they have met with someone outside of their household less frequently than once a week.

Analysis conducted by Teagasc shows that COVID-19 resulted in a decline in farmers’ social interactions which was broadly similar to that witnessed across the general farming community.

On online social engagement, the survey found almost 80% of small farm households had access to the internet in 2022 which is “somewhat below” the level of internet access reported by the general farming population.