National Farm Survey
The National Farm Survey (NFS) has been conducted by Teagasc on an annual basis since 1972. The survey is operated as part of the Farm Accountancy Data Network of the EU and fulfils Ireland’s statutory obligation to provide data on farm output, costs and income to the European Commission. A random, nationally representative sample, of between 1,000 and 1,200 farms depending on the year, is selected annually in conjunction with the Central Statistics Office (CSO). Each farm is assigned a weighting factor so that the results of the survey are representative of the national population of farms.
Pigs and poultry systems are not represented because of the small number of farms in these systems. Co-operation in the survey is voluntary but the survey is supported by the main farming organisations. The success of the NFS is largely dependent on the voluntary co-operation of farmers in providing reliable and accurate data on their farm businesses.
Main Uses of NFS Data
To determine the financial and technical situation for the many systems and size groups that make up the Irish farming sector.
To provide a database for research on financial, technical and socio-economic aspects of farming at farm and enterprise level. Many research projects within RERC, Teagasc and other academic institutions use NFS data.
NFS data are used by economists and policy makers to inform policy proposals and decisions especially at EU level, using FADN data. The data are also used to monitor and evaluate existing policies and their impact at farm level.
Farm advice/benchmark performance
The NFS provides information both at overall farm and at individual farm enterprise level on the returns, costs and performance that occur in farming, which can be used by farm advisors in planning the farm business. In addition corresponding data are available for the top and bottom performers together with technical and physical information, which impact on the financial returns and can be used by individual farmers to benchmark their own farm business.
EU Farm Accountancy Data Network (FADN)
A key use of NFS data is to fulfil Ireland’s statutory obligation to supply harmonised, annual data on farm output, costs and income to the EU Farm Accountancy Data Network (FADN). Teagasc has been responsible for delivering these data since Ireland joined the EU.
National Data on Agriculture
NFS data are used by the CSO in compiling national statistics on output, costs and income arising in agriculture. The CSO Household Budget Survey on the farming sector is conducted on the NFS sample of farms.
Data is collected using laptop computers on a regular basis throughout the year by a team of trained Teagasc Research Technicians located throughout the country. The NFS has always been conducted to ensure total confidentiality of individual farmer’s data. A unique code is used to identify each farm thus ensuring that data cannot be linked to a particular farm.
The data collected cover all the key financial and physical indicators at farm level viz inventories, sales, purchases, costs, subsidies, liabilities, assets, cropping programme, yields etc.
In recent years the NFS has extended the range of data covered to the farm household, as the increased emphasis on rural development and viability of rural communities has placed greater emphasis on farm household data e.g. off-farm employment and income, farm inheritance, household composition, age structure etc. Additional data are also being collected regarding environmental issues.