Agriculture Overview

Agriculture Overview

The nature and extent of agricultural activity in County Cork is relatively intense. This is indicated by the following statistics from the CSO Census of Agriculture, which took place in June of 2010. Click here for Census of Agriculture 2010 - Final Results - CSO - Central Statistics Office.

  County Cork County Cork as % of Ireland Ireland
Number of farms 14,222 10.1% 139,860
Average size of farm 38.1 116.5%  32.7
Agricultural area used 561,802 11.2% 4,991,353
Total crops, fruit and horticulture 55,142 15.6% 353,927
Total grassland 486,173 11.5% 4,215,007
Total cattle 990,603 15% 6,606,585
Specialist dairy farms 4,251 23% 18,456
Dairy cows 284,050 26.5% 1,070,755
Pigs 259,031 17.1% 1,516,291

The third report of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Ireland's Environment 2004, (April 2004), indicated that agriculture is responsible for a significant proportion of water pollution in Irish rivers, lakes, estuaries and ground waters.

 In response to this potential pressure on water quality, a specialist agricultural pollution prevention and control section was set up as part of the Environment Department.

 The main duties of this section are as follows:

  • Implementing the agricultural measures under the European Union (Good Agricultural Practice for Protection of Waters) Regulations 2014, (Nitrates Regulations), which mainly involves farmyard survey work to improve farm facilities and practices in catchments with poor water quality.
  • Assessing and reporting on agricultural planning applications.
  • Dealing with complaints from the public regarding agricultural issues, such as water pollution.
  • Assessing and reporting on forestry activities, with emphasis on their potential impact on water quality.
  • Liaising and providing assistance, where necessary, with other sections of the Environment Department and County Council generally.
  • Communicating with farmers, their representative bodies and agricultural advisers and consultants through personal contacts, presentations, discussion groups and seminars.

Good Agricultural Practice Regulations

The European Communities (Good Agricultural Practice for Protection of Waters) Regulations 2006, (S.I. No. 378 of 2006) were signed into law by Minister for Environment, Mr. Dick Roche on 18th July 2006. These were the first Regulations to give legal effect to Ireland 's national Nitrates Action Programme under the EU Nitrates Directive.  

Following a review of the Nitrates Action Programme in 2013 new regulations were signed into law by Minister Phil Hogan on 28th January 2014. The new regulations are The European Union (Good Agricultural Practice for Protection of Waters) Regulations 2014, (S.I.31 of 2014). These regulations are currently in force. They may also be known as the Good Agricultural Practice Regulations, or the Nitrates Regulations.

A full copy of the regulations can be accessed by clicking on the link, European Union (Good Agricultural Practice for Protection of Waters) Regulations 2014

A guide to the measures which farmers must comply with under the regulations is available at Guide to S.I. 31 of 2014, Nitrates Regulations 2014. This is for general guidance only, please consult the regulations for full details.

The Agriculture Section of Cork County Council Environment Department is based at the County Council offices at Inniscarra, and can be contacted at 021 453 2700.

Further Information can be found at the following links:

Department of Agriculture

Pesticide Regulations

Department of Agriculture Pesticides Registration & Control Division

Further information on Hazardous Waste (pdf).

The EPA has a guide for best practice around Pesticide Containers (pdf).