Advanced estimates for production and value added in Agriculture for Ireland is out for 2011 and it makes for some interesting reading. The headline numbers are pretty exciting:
- Goods output rose from €4,7524mln in 2009 to €5,329mln (+12.8% yoy) in 2010. And it is now expected to increase to €6,190mln (+16.2%) yoy in 2011.
- Net subsidies (net of all taxes collected) fell from €1,849mln in 2009 to €1,688mln in 2010, and now expected to rise again to €1,942mln in 2011.
- Overall, operating surplus - goods output value less intermediate inputs consumption and less subsidies - has risen year on year in 2010: from €1,544mln in 2009 to €1,967mln in 2010 (+27.4%) and is expected to rise 33.4% to €2,625mln in 2011.
Strong results, but over relatively tiny numbers. When you hear that the agriculture sector is worth €6.2 billion to the Irish economy, do keep in mind that in reality it is worth just €2.6 billion. The rest of the 'worth' is more like rich uncle buying you a dinner and sending you a subsidy cheque...
And for being the 'agriculture island' - well, our operating surplus in 2010 in agriculture stood as 12th highest in absolute terms in the EU27, same as in 2009. This is against the backdrop of Irish economy being 15th largest in EU27 in the same period. So here's the neighborhood we are in, when it comes to agriculture's contribution to our economy:
Wedged between such 'knowledge" economies with high value added as other agricultural states of Cyprus, Lithuania, Estonia, Hungary... Ireland is the only country of the advanced EU27 states that finds itself in the group of countries with agriculture's share of GDP above 1%. In fact, our share in 2010 was 1.26%. The closest to us advance EU27 member state - Finland, had the same share of 0.88%.
The fact is, you can't build a modern economy on agriculture. A healthy agricultural sector with high value added activities and high levels of specialization is something to be proud of. A generally larger agricultural sector as a share of overall economy, in contrast, is a feature of underdeveloped economies.