Annual Farm Census now open for completion

The Annual Agricultural and Horticultural Census for Northern Ireland is now open and will be completed online again this year.

Wednesday, 9th June 2021, 8:30 am

The Census is one of the world’s longest running surveys having been collated since 1847: the deadline for completion is 30th June.

Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots MLA said: “The survey has been compiled since 1847 and is an extremely important tool to assess trends across the agriculture and horticulture sectors. 

“We use all this information to help form many of my Department’s decisions and policies on supporting Northern Ireland’s farming industry. It’s therefore very important for all farmers to fill in the survey and help us understand how and where to direct resources.”

Last year’s survey highlighted some interesting facts:

There are 25,896 farm businesses in Northern Ireland. For every person in Northern Ireland there are 14 chickens, almost one cow, one sheep and a third of a pig.

In addition, there are 51,301 farm workers in Northern Ireland (including farmers, their spouses, full-time, part-time and casual workers.

Most farms are involved in livestock production with 92% assigned to a livestock type. Of these, 10% were classified as dairy farms and 79% as cattle and sheep farms. Grass accounted for almost 80% of the total area farmed in Northern Ireland.

All of this adds up to an industry that has a more than significant footprint cross the local economy as a whole.

The gross output of Northern Ireland agriculture was estimated at value added £2.15 billion for 2019. This represents a 2.1 per cent decline from the previous year.

There were decreases in the output of the milk, cattle, sheep, poultry, eggs, and horticultural sectors, but these were partially offset by increases in output from the pigs and crops sectors.

Meanwhile, gross input (or ‘intermediate consumption’) increased by 0.6 per cent, to £1.62 billion in 2019.

Feedstuff costs, which accounted for 53 per cent of the gross input figure, fell by 1.7 per cent during the year in question to £851 million.

There was a 2.3 per cent decrease in the volume of feedstuffs purchased and a 0.5 per cent increase in the average price paid per tonne.

Total machinery expenses increased by 1.9 per cent to £161 million in 2019. This increase was mainly due to a 2.8 per cent increase in the cost of fuel and oils.

Agricultural contracting costs also increased by 5.9 per cent to £102.2 million in 2019.

All of these factors combined to deliver a 25 per cent fall in Total Income From Farming (TIFF) for 2019 relative to the year previous. TIFF for 2019 was calculated at £290 million, down from £386 million in 2018.

Following the decrease in 2019, TIFF was sitting at 4.4 per cent above the average of the last twenty years after accounting for inflation. The decrease of TIFF in 2019 was mainly driven by lower product prices on national and international markets

Edwin Poots continued: “I am encouraging everyone to take the 15 minute survey before the 30th June deadline, and ensure we can capture what’s happening across Northern Ireland.”

All the information collected during the census will be treated in a completely confidential manner. As an additional security feature within the online format of the survey, each of Northern Ireland’s farm businesses have been provided with a unique five-digit code to safeguard identity when logging into the service.

To access the form go farmers should go to [email protected], use their unique five-digit code and complete details as requested.