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Agriculture; Food and the Marine | Agri-food and fishing sector employment

To ask the Minister for Agriculture; Food and the Marine the extent to which employment continues in the agri-food and fishing sectors; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

My Department continually monitors the levels of employment in the agriculture and wider agri-food sector. Employment figures are primarily sourced from the Central Statistics Office’s (CSO) quarterly Labour Force Survey.

Looking at trends over the period 2019 to 2021, employment in the overall agri-food sector has grown by 6,400 to 170,400 people. This represents 7.1% of the total workforce. The average numbers employed in agriculture, forestry and fishing were 107,000 in 2021, (+4,500 over the period 2019 to 2021) with 49,650 employed in the manufacture of food products (+850). There were 7,750 employed in the manufacture of beverages (+1,000) and about 6,000 employed in the wood and wood-processing sector.

It should be noted that the Labour Force Survey is based on the main employment a person reports in the survey. Where a part-time farmer reports their off-farm job as their main employment, they will not be recorded as working in primary agriculture. Teagasc in their annual National Farm Survey outline that up to 34% of farm holders have off-farm employment, while 54% of farm holders and/or their spouse has an off-farm employment.

It is also important to note that while the overall level of employment from these sectors is 7.1% of total employment nationwide, the proportion of employment outside Dublin is much greater. For example, CSO data shows that in the border region the agri-food sector employment accounted for 14.2% of overall employment and accounted for over 12% in the south-east region.

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