One-third of small farmers had no daily contact with persons outside of their immediate household in 2022, Teagasc’s small farm survey has found.

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 meet with someone outside of their household less frequently than once a week.

Teagasc’s survey showed a decline in small farmers’ contact resulting from COVID-19, which was broadly in line with the reduction witnessed across the general farming community.

Its national farm survey, which surveys farmers not included in the small farmer survey, had concluded that COVID-19 pushed more farmers to engage with the internet, as marts provided online livestock trading facilities.

Online engagement

On online social engagement, Teagasc found that almost 80% of small farm households had internet access in 2022.

This was “somewhat below” the level of access that Teagasc had previously found among the general farming population.

Seven out of every 10 small farmers reported to own a smartphone when the survey was conducted.

Only half of this farming group use either the internet or their smartphone for farming purposes.

Two-thirds of those surveyed reported that their health was either very good or good and only 10% said they were in poor health.

Age profile

The age profile of small farmers is older than that of the general farming population, with 41% of small farmers aged over 65 compared with 28% across medium and large farms.

Only 17% of small farmers are younger than 44 years of age.