Discover Ireland

Agriculture in Ireland

Ireland has many natural advantages for farming given its fertile soil, temperate climate and abundant rainfall. Along with these natural resources, the country has a rich tradition of farming skills, which have been passed down through the generations. The total land area of Ireland is 6.9 million hectares, of which 4.4 million hectares is used for agriculture.

Ireland is known as the Emerald Isle, which is explained by the fact that the majority of agricultural land is grass based. In total 81% of agricultural land is grassland, 11% is marginal grazing and 8% is in crop production (Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine 2017). Grass-feeding is an integral part of Irish dairy farming and beef farming.

The vast majority of Irish farms are family run. There are approximately 140,000 farm holdings in Ireland, with an average size of 32.5 hectares (Farm Structures Survey 2013). It is often used as a joke but recent surveys have confirmed that there are more sheep in Ireland than humans after numbers have been rising steadily for the last years.

Ireland is marketed internationally as ‘The Food Island’. The agri-food and drink sector accounts for 10.8% of Ireland's exports. The United Kingdom (37%), continental Europe (32%) and rest of the world (31%) are the main destinations for exports. The sector accounts for almost 167,500 jobs.