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Preliminary results of the June Agricultural Census 2013

The preliminary results of the June 2013 Agricultural Census have been released by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Thursday, 29 August 2013

The statistics are compiled from a survey of farm businesses augmented by administrative data. The preliminary results were based on the first 7,000 returns and, whilst they should give an indication of the main trends, are liable to be amended in the light of returns received and processed later. Final results will be published in November 2013 by which time all returns from farmers will have been processed.

The main changes between June 2012 and June 2013 are:

Cereals: The overall cropping pattern this year is very similar to that for 2012, with a marginal 1 per cent fall in the total area of cereals. The area of spring barley was unchanged, however, the area of winter wheat decreased by 5%, while oats were up by 4%. The autumn of 2012 was the second season in a row when bad weather led to poor sowing conditions for winter cereals. Compared with more normal conditions in 2011, the area of winter wheat is 22% lower this year. However, most of the land released remains in cereal production and has been planted in spring barely, the area of which has increased by 17% since 2011.

Other crops: The area of potatoes increased by 11% from that recorded in 2012, recovering most of the decline recorded between 2011 and 2012. The area of arable silage rose by 6% on the previous year, extending a generally upward trend that began in 2009. The area of maize planted continues to decrease with a 12% fall from that recorded in 2012, again continuing a trend that began in 2008 when 3,500 ha was grown.

Cattle: Total cattle numbers were 2% lower than in June 2012. The number of dairy cows, decreased by 2% and the number of beef cows fell by 3%. Margins were under pressure in both sectors in the second half of 2012 from rising input costs and producers had to contend with a long winter keep and late spring in 2013. However, as 2012 saw year-on-year increases in the size of the beef and dairy herds, this year’s reversals mean numbers are now broadly similar to those recorded for 2011. Looking forward, the number of in-calf dairy heifers is stable compared with June 2012 (and higher than in 2011) but beef herd replacements are 10% lower than in 2012 and 13% lower than in 2011.

Sheep: There was a 1% fall in the number of breeding ewes compared with 2012. Despite this fall, the breeding flock is still 3% higher than in 2011. The number of young lambs on farms in June is 3% lower than 2012, in part reflecting the very poor weather and higher losses experienced during the lambing period this spring.

Pigs: Sow numbers are unchanged compared with June 2012 while total pigs for fattening are 2% up on the previous year (see notes for editors 3)

Poultry: The number of broiler birds is 1% higher compared with June 2012.

Farmers and workers: There was no change in the number of farmers compared with 2012, and a marginal 1% increase in the total number of persons working on farms (on a headcount basis). This was chiefly due to a small rise in the number of part-time and unpaid family labour recorded in the survey.

Tables giving more details of the June Agricultural Census preliminary results are available here.  

Notes to editors:

  1. The survey results were prepared in Farm Surveys Branch, Policy and Economics Division of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dundonald House, Upper Newtownards Road, Belfast, BT4 3SB.
  2. In an effort to reduce the compliance burden on farmers, the survey form sent to farmers omitted most of the cattle and all of the poultry and pig questions. Survey information was then augmented with data from APHIS for missing cattle variables, the Update of the Northern Ireland Bird Register for poultry and the Annual Inventory of Pigs.
  3. This is the first year that pig numbers have been collated from the newly introduced Annual Inventory of Pigs. Prior to the publication of Agricultural Census Final Results in November, when all the data from the inventory is available, an assessment of the comparability of the 2013 results with those from previous year’s will be undertaken and guidance provided to users.
  4. Full details of the coverage of the census and of terms used were given in the booklet “The Agricultural Census in Northern Ireland: Results for June 2012” (DARD, 2013) and will be repeated in the 2013 issue of this annual publication, available in January 2014. These booklets may be accessed on the Department’s internet site, free of charge.
  5. These statistics are released according to the Statement of Compliance with the Pre-release access to Official Statistics Order (NI) 2009 which can be found here.
  6. These preliminary results were compiled from a sample of approximately 7,000 statistical returns, augmented with data from the APHIS cattle tracing system, the Update of the NI Bird Register returns and the Annual Inventory of Pigs.
  7. All recent DARD statistical press releases can be found here.
  8. For media enquiries please contact DARD Press Office 028 9052 4619 or email: pressoffice.group@dardni.gov.uk Out of hours contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.