Provisional results of the June Agricultural Census 2021

The provisional results of the June 2021 Agricultural Census have been released by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA).

The statistics provide estimates of crop areas and numbers of livestock on active farm businesses on the survey date of 1 June 2021.

The statistics are compiled from a survey of farm businesses augmented by administrative data. In response to COVID-19, the data collection for the 2020 Farm Census moved entirely online for the first time.

Online data collection continued in 2021 with telephone support for those who were not able to complete online, with good response rates achieved.

Questions streamlined in 2020 were reintroduced again in 2021, including several questions on crops, vegetables and labour.

The main changes between June 2020 and June 2021 are:

Total area farmed: The total area farmed (excluding common land) was approximately one million hectares (1,035,642 hectares), an increase of 1% compared to 2020.

Cattle: Total cattle numbers have increased by 4% to 1,681,991. The number of beef cows have increased by 1% to 246,956 while the number of dairy cows increased by 2% to 318,372.

Sheep: There was an increase of 2% in breeding ewes compared to 2020, with numbers increasing to 968,300. Overall, the total number of sheep recorded was just over 2 million, which was also a 2% rise from June 2020.

Pigs: Total pig numbers recorded in June 2021 increased by 5% to 716,798 compared to June 2020.

Poultry: Total poultry numbers on farms at June 2021 remained unchanged from 2020 levels with 24.5 million birds recorded. However, within poultry categories there was a decrease in laying birds of 13% and an increase in broiler numbers of 4% compared to June 2020.

Crops: The total area of crops grown in Northern Ireland in 2021 was approximately 46,500 hectares, an increase of 2% from 2020. The total area of cereals (30,500 hectares) grown in 2021 increased by 4% from 2020. Wheat crops increased by 8% to 7,700 hectares,

Winter and Spring Barley increased by 2% and 3% respectively, while Oats remained similar to the 2020 area recorded.