A LOWER percentage of jobs are being lost in the agri-food sector compared with other industries, according to a new report.
It revealed that in the past 12 months, agriculture and food businesses reduced the size of their workforce by an average of 5%, only half the national average of 10%.
The report, The Agriculture and Food Industry – Bigger, Brighter, Tougher, was launched yesterday by economist Jim Power and Agri Aware, the farming and food educational body.
It confirmed that one in every seven Irish jobs is supported by the industry, bringing the total workforce to almost 270,000.
Mr Power, chief economist with Friends First, said the report shows 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.
Determining the scale and stability of the industry were primary objectives of the study as was identifying the challenges that lie ahead.
Asked about the three greatest obstacles for the industry, more than 1,000 agriculture and food firms cited finance issues (27%), Government policies and regulations (18%) and retail and market pressure (16%).
However, more than half believe they would expand in the next five years.
Agri Aware chairman Mairead Lavery said there will undoubtedly be tough challenges for the industry in the coming months. “However it is extremely encouraging to see that enterprises are looking beyond immediate pressures.
“Through vital national consumer support, this sector will continue to be a cornerstone in Irish employment and economic contribution,” she said.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved