Agriculture and food businesses provide more employment security than other industries in the recession, a new survey has found.
A survey of over 1,000 businesses carried out by Agri Aware in the past 12 months found agriculture and food businesses have reduced the size of their workforce by an average of 5 per cent compared with the national average of 10 per cent.
The report entitled The Agriculture and Food Industry – Bigger, Brighter, Tougher, launched by Friends First economist Jim Power, also found that one in every seven Irish jobs is supported by the industry, bringing the total workforce to almost 270,000.
“The 268,000 jobs identified in this study position the industry as the second largest employer in the country after the retail and wholesale trade,” said Mr Power at the launch of the report yesterday.
“This report demonstrates how deeply the industry penetrates the national employment sector. Support and advocacy at both a Government and consumer level will play a crucial role in the sustainability of the industry and the hundreds of thousands of livelihoods dependent on it,” he said.
When asked about the three greatest obstacles for the industry, over 1,000 agriculture and food companies cited these as finance issues (27 per cent), Government policies and regulations (18 per cent) and retail and market pressure (16 per cent).
This study, commissioned by the board of Agri Aware in an attempt to identify just how relevant the agri-food sector is to employment, found over half of the companies believed they would expand in the next five years.
“The results clearly indicate that the food and agricultural industry remains of utmost importance to the sustainability of Irish jobs.
“A significant proportion of the Irish workforce not only depends on the industry for employment, but as a stable and viable career choice,” said the report.
The report found more negativity about the future in the animal feed sector than machinery and livestock sectors.
Within the food and drink production sectors, both meat and dairy were the most negative.