5.2.4 Agriculture & Food
5.2.4 Agriculture & Food
The agriculture sector is important, with almost twice the proportion of the labour force employed in the sector compared to the national average. There are c 3,750 farms in County Kilkenny employing over 5,244 people directly. However, the agri-food sector supports thousands of additional jobs including in food & drink processing, input suppliers, agricultural contractors, transport and engineering, professional services, veterinary and other advisory services.
Kilkenny forms part of the Waterford/Kilkenny Teagasc Advisory Region. The average farm size in the region is 44.7 hectares (over one third larger than the national average), the largest of any region in the country. The standard output per farm as measured by the CSO is almost double the national average.
Dairying is the dominant enterprise in the region. Key components of the Teagasc Strategic Plan for the region (to 2020) is for farmers to become world leaders in sustainable agricultural production; increase milk production by 60%; maintain suckler cow numbers while increasing the calf to beef enterprise; and increase the number of ewes by 10%. All development is to be carried out in harmony with the environment and all clients are to complete a Carbon Navigator to guide their farming activities. The abolition of milk quotas, changes in income tax reliefs for land leasing, a broadening of partnership rules and the introduction of share farming combined with a growing demand for food all provide an opportunity for farmers in the region to exploit.
Kilkenny has a long established agri-food sector with major companies operating in the county including Glanbia and Connolly’s Red Mills, complemented by an emerging artisan food producer base of micro and medium sized food producers. During the period of the last Plan, Glanbia opened a high-specification processing facility in Belview and planning permission has been granted for a cheese manufacturing facility also in Belview.
Foodwise 2025 sets out a ten-year plan for the agri-food sector. It underlines the sector’s unique and special position within the Irish economy, and it illustrates the potential which exists for this sector to grow even further. This plan supports the objectives of Food Wise 2025 as it strives to achieve sustainable farming practices and the sustainable growth of the farming sector. (See also Chapter 7 Rural Development).
The Plan will facilitate and support the development of agriculture and food while ensuring the highest standards of environmental protection in the assessment of planning applications for all development proposals.