The final results of the June 2013 Agricultural Census have been released by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
The statistics provide estimates of crop areas, numbers of livestock and of farmers and workers on active farm businesses on the census date of 1 June 2013.
The main changes between June 2012 and June 2013 are:
Cereals: The total area of winter crops planted in autumn 2012 for harvest in 2013 was 15,300 ha – an 8% fall on the previous year. This was largely a consequence of poor weather which hampered sowing. A 1% increase in the area of spring barley to 20,500 ha filled some of the gap, but overall the cereal area was down 1,100ha to 35,900 ha – a 3% reduction compared with 2012 and the smallest area sown in cereals since 2007.
Other crops: At 4,300 ha, the area of potatoes grown was 4% higher in 2013 compared to 2012. The area of forage maize was 19% lower in June 2013 compared with a year earlier at 1,600 ha and has decreased by over 50% since reaching a peak of 3,500 ha in 2008.
Cattle: Total cattle numbers were down 2% on 2012 levels at 1.588million head. Within this dairy cows decreased by 2% to 279,500 while beef cows decreased by 3% to 270,000. Increasing costs in milk and suckled beef production and the impacts of bad weather were important drivers behind these changes.
Sheep: The number of breeding ewes was 2% lower at June 2013 compared with the previous year. As with cattle, increasing input costs put downward pressure on margins in the period, while bad weather (especially in Spring 2013) increased losses. A 5% fall in young lambs reflected increased losses to bad weather during the early months of the year.
Pigs: The pig breeding herd stood at 42,500 in June 2013 and total pigs at 480,300.
Poultry: Poultry numbers were up by 1% compared with June 2012. There was no change in broiler chicken numbers, but the breeding flock for hatching eggs experienced strong growth. The sector is highly vertically integrated and the number of bird coming forward is tailored to meet market demands.
Farmers and workers: There was an estimated 1% increase in the overall farm labour headcount (full-time, part-time and casual) to 47,800 in June 2013. Most of the increase is in part-time and unpaid labour and likely reflects difficulties in farm family members getting off-farm work, rather than an increase in demand for farm labour.
Tables providing more details of the June Agricultural Census results are available online at: http://www.dardni.gov.uk/statistical-bulletins