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40 years of the Teagasc National Farm Survey

The Teagasc National Farm Survey is celebrating 40 years of publication. It measures farm incomes across the main enterprises and reflects the changes in sales, costs and incomes on an annual basis.

Teagasc marked the fortieth publication of the Teagasc National Farm Survey, at an event in the Royal Dublin Society, Dublin, yesterday, Monday, 10 June. 2013 is also the fortieth anniversary of Ireland’s membership of the European Union and Teagasc has produced a publication to mark both called - “40 years of Irish Farming since joining the European Union: A journey with the Teagasc National Farm Survey”. 

Accession to the European Union brought with it an obligation to establish an annual survey of farm incomes to provide statistics on farming in Ireland to the European Commission. The National Farm Survey, which is Teagasc’s longest running research project, was established in 1972 and every year since then it has been used to produce annual estimates of farm income.

When Ireland joined the EEC in 1973, there were approximately 250,000 farms in the country and the average family farm income, as measured by the NFS was €1,500 in nominal terms. In 2012 the average family farm income was €25,483.

Speaking at the event, Professor Gerry Boyle said: “While the Teagasc National Farm Survey was primarily established to provide statistics to Brussels on developments in Irish farm income, it has become an invaluable source of information on the economic status of farm families for all stakeholders in the sector. This publication charts the highs and lows of EU membership, as recorded by the NFS, from the golden era for milk production in the 1970s to the imposition of the milk quota in 1984. The National Farm Survey tells the story of the introduction of the first direct payment to farmers in the 1970s and traces their development to the current day, where they now comprise over 100 percent of income on many farms”. Professor Boyle said that Ireland’s farmers had benefitted greatly from EU Membership and that almost €50 billion of funds had flowed from Brussels to Irish farmers in the last 40 years.

The survey has been conducted on a sample of over 1,000 farms annually since 1972. Farmers participate in the survey voluntarily and receive no compensation for their participation. It is estimated that close to 20,000 farmers have participated in the survey since it began in 1972. “These farmers were partners, along with Teagasc, in this project and deserve huge acknowledgment for their generosity,” said Professor Boyle.

National Farm Survey

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