NI farmers concerned over livestock number 'myth'

Farmers in Northern Ireland want to set the record straight on livestock numbers in the region
Farmers in Northern Ireland want to set the record straight on livestock numbers in the region

Farmers in Northern Ireland have highlighted their concerns over a particular 'myth' which is 'misrepresenting' the region's livestock industry.

The myth in focus suggests that livestock numbers in Northern Ireland are increasing, when in fact the opposite is true.

Census figures from NI's Department of Agriculture show a 50 percent reduction in pig numbers between 1965 and 2018.

Figures also show a 3 percent reduction in breeding cows between 1994 and 2018 and a 33 percent reduction in breeding sheep between 1998 and 2018.



The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) said it is 'increasingly concerned by the misrepresentation' of Northern Ireland’s livestock industry.

The union said these figures reflect market changes and modernising of Northern Ireland’s agriculture industry.



UFU deputy president, David Brown said: “We regularly work with groups that operate outside mainstream agriculture, but often it quickly becomes clear they don’t have all the facts when it comes to modern agriculture.

“It can be somewhat of a revelation when we get the opportunity to explain our businesses and correct misinformation. This is particularly true when it comes to livestock numbers.

“Many people think numbers have increased over the years when in fact the opposite is true and we actually have less livestock in Northern Ireland than we did in the past,” he said.

Mr Brown added that since the UK is only 55 percent self-sufficient in pig meat and 75 percent in both poultry and beef, there are 'gaps in the market' that can be filled with locally produced meat.

“We can fill [the market] with our locally produced, high-quality meat rather than relying on imports from countries that are possibly not required to meet our same high animal welfare and environmental standards,” he said.