Number of farms drops to 147,800, new figures show
The number of farms fell by more than 1 per cent to 147,800 in 1997, and there was a 6.3 per cent drop in people working on farms, to 281,900.
The number of farms in the Republic in the previous year was 149,500, according to the figures. The size of holdings increased over the same period, from 29.2 hectares in 1996 to 29.4 hectares in 1997.
The statistics showed that in 1996 there were 301,000 persons working on farms in the State, but by the following year this had fallen to 281,900, according to the figures published yesterday by the Central Statistics Office.
There was an even greater decline in the number of annual work units worked on farms in 1997. This figure fell from 223,400 units to 205,800, a decline of 7.9 per cent. There was a decrease in the average labour input per farm, from 1.5 annual work units (1,800 hours) in 1996 to 1.4 annual work units in 1997.
There was also a decrease in the number of landholders working one annual work unit in the corresponding period. This fell from 99,200 in 1996 to 97,900 in 1997.
The number of family workers also declined, from 287,200 in 1996 to 268,000 in 1997, due to the decrease in the number of spouses working on farms.
The figures showed a continuing decline in the number of family farms, from 153,000 in 1995 to 149,300 in 1996, then to 147,800 in 1997. Of these farm holders 134,500 were male and 13,100 female.
A total of 32,300 of the farmers were aged over 65, with 33,400 between the ages of 55 to 64. Only 17,700 farmers were aged under 35, with the largest percentage of farms being owned by farmers aged between 45 and 54. That figure was 35,500.