Farming directly employs 69,375 workers and is the second-highest occupational group in Ireland, making up 3.5% of the workforce, according to 2016 figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO).

However, the number of farmers employed directly in farming has declined by 5.2% since 2011.

There are an estimated 139,600 farms in Ireland. Therefore, the CSO figures would indicate that more farmers are taking some form of off-farm employment to supplement their incomes.

Farm incomes

Teagasc reported that farm incomes increased by 37% in 2017. However, that increase was largely driven by the dairy sector.

The increase in milk price for 2017 drove the average farm income to roughly €31,900 compared with €23,500 in 2016.

Many industry experts have now commented that dairy farming is in a league of its own, in terms of farm income.

On average, dairy farmers received €1,800/ha compared with €-16/ha for suckler farmers and €-3/ha for beef finishers.

Read more

Dairy drives 30% farm income jump – Teagasc

‘2018 won’t be as good for dairy no matter how you look at it’