A third of the country’s farmers are over 65 years old, up from 26 percent in 2010, but the number of women farmers under the age of 35 has increased significantly.
Figures in the recently published Department of Agriculture’s Outlook and Review show that the farm age profile has changed significantly over the past 30 years, with fewer farms under the age of 45 and significantly more over the age of 65.
The most significant change is the 79 per cent increase in female farmers under the age of 35. Although relatively small in absolute numbers, with 501 additional female farmers it reflects the positive trend of increasing gender diversity among young farmers in Ireland.
According to Eurostat 2016, around 30 percent of farms in the EU were managed by a woman in 2016. In Lithuania and Latvia, 45 percent of all farms are run by women.
In Ireland, the 2020 CSO Census of Agriculture shows that out of a total of 135,037 farmers in Ireland, about 13.4 per cent – or 18,101 – are women. That number has increased from 15,099 in 2000 when they represented 10.7 percent of farmers. This trend towards more female farm owners should continue, as farm owners who have a succession plan reported that the successor was female 16.2 percent of the time.
Dairy farmers tended to be younger than farmers from all other operating systems, with a median age of 52 years, while farmers from specialized tillage, specialized sheep farming, mixed grazing, mixed cropping and livestock, and other systems all had a median age of 0 to 56 years old. The average age of cattle specialists is 58 years, while mixed field farmers have the oldest average age at 59 years.
The figures also show that the UK remains Ireland’s largest agri-food outlet, trading more than the next three countries combined.
Trade with the UK was worth €5.8 billion in 2021, while trade with the US, the second most important single trading partner, was worth €1.3 billion and trade with the Netherlands was worth €1.24 billion.
In 2021, the sector employed 170,400 people, accounting for 7.1 percent of the total workforce across 135,000 farms, 2,000 fishing vessels and aquaculture operations, and around 2,000 food production and beverage companies. The sector is responsible for 4.5 million hectares of agricultural land, 770,000 hectares of forest and produces almost 10 per cent of Ireland’s exports each year.
In 2021, the farm operating surplus was €3.5 billion, compared to €3 billion in 2020, an increase of 18 percent, mainly due to an increase in the value of milk production, which increased by €642 million (23 percent ) rose to €3.4 billion , grain, which rose by €145 million (50 percent) to €434 million, and livestock, which rose by €290 million (13 percent) to €2.6 million. On the other hand, the value of pig production decreased by €47m (8 head) to €555m.
https://www.independent.ie/business/farming/news/farming-news/ageing-farmers-handing-more-holdings-over-to-women-42125746.html Older farmers handing over more farms to women