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A new layer: Agriculture in 2015 – a marginal activity?

Updated Tuesday 5th April 2016

Explore changes in agriculture, farm sizes, farmers' ages and the use of land in Southwest Donegal between 1983-2011.

The marginal nature of agriculture in Southwest Donegal in 1983 was depicted in the videos as a way of life with minimal mechanisation and limited innovation. Agricultural advisor Art McGrath - who you met in the article 'Agriculture in Southwest Donegal, 1983' - described the typical farm having 5 bovines and 48 sheep. He noted that the farms were not really viable, but that the strong attachment to the land made it difficult to consolidate and enlarge holdings. In the intervening period up to 2015, little has changed. Over half of all farms in the area are under 10 hectares, with a further fifth between 10 and 20 hectares. The age profile of farmers remains older. Just 8% of farmers are under 35, while 55% are 55 or older (CSO Census of Agriculture, 2012).

Tractor in Glencolmcille Creative commons image Icon Jenny Meegan under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0 license In common with other parts of Ireland, silage has replaced hay as the main fodder crop. Comparisons between the census of agriculture taken in 1991 and that of 2010 show an increased proportion of pasture compared to rough grazing, suggesting improvements undertaken at farm level. Some mechanisation is in evidence, such as more turf being machine-cut, but this is dependent on the terrain.  

Nevertheless, like much of the West of Ireland, agriculture in Southwest Donegal in 2015 is still heavily dependent on subsidy through the EU CAP (Common Agricultural Policy). Major reforms of the policy were implemented in 2013.

In terms of agricultural marketing, by 2015 the sheep co-operative had closed. But the Glencolmcille Agricultural Show (Taispeántais Ghleann Cholm Cille), one of Fr McDyer’s initiatives from the 1950s, had been revived in 2010. You can watch highlights from the Show in 2011 here.

 

Now move on to read about A new layer: Textiles in 2015 - ‘things have changed and not changed’.

 

See all the articles in this series

See all the series in the Change in the West of Ireland collection

This article is part of a collection on the 'Uniqueness, Interdependence, Uneven Development and Change in the West of Ireland'. To find out more about the collection, a good place to start is the introduction, Change in the West of Ireland. 

 

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