Houses are not the only property asset to be falling in value at the minute.  As reported in the Irish ExaminerLeinster Express, and elsewhere Knight Frank Ireland report that the national average price paid for farmland in 2009 was €9,678 per acre, a drop of 43.3 per cent on the average price of €17,081 per acre in 2008 (excluding the Dublin, Kildare and Wicklow region). The biggest fall of prices was in the Dublin/Kildare/Wicklow region where prices dropped by 56.6 per cent, and there were no recorded farmland sales in County Dublin.  Knight Frank Ireland detail that while the number of farmland sales in the midlands (Offaly, Meath, Westmeath, and Longford) rose slightly in 2009 (29) from 2008 (24), the average price dropped from €20,550 to €11,318 per acre – a drop of 45% in a single year.  For small holdings of 20 to 49 acres the 2009 price was €11,298 per acre, for farmland of 50 to 99 acres, the average price was €12,167 per acre, and holdings of 100 to 199 acre, the average price was €9,246 per acre.  As Knight Frank note, the one silver lining from this is that land sales are up, even if the price is down.

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The data presented thus far highlight the decline in agricultural employment, they do not, however, provide any indication of the impact of the economic downturn on farmers that engage in off-farm employment. The most recent data from the National Farm Survey (NFS), relating to 2008, indicate that 40% of all farmers held an off-farm job (Connolly et al., 2009). For these individuals, off-farm income accounted for 71% of their total household income, highlighting the vital importance of off-farm employment to farm households and in contributing to the viability of the farm enterprise. (more…)

The numbers employed in agriculture initially declined from roughly 114,000 to 110,000 between 2004 and 2005 and thereafter remained at this level until Q3 2007. From late 2007 to the end of 2008 agricultural employment increased to 115,000 before witnessing a rapid decline during 2009 to a low of 98,000. These trends track developments in the wider economy with declining agricultural employment (2004 – 2007) corresponding to increasing off-farm employment opportunities. With the fall in non-agricultural employment opportunities from 2007 onwards it is possible that those working off-farm re-engaged in agriculture on a fulltime basis thereby accounting for some of the increase in the total number employed in the sector. (more…)