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Farm Diversification in Ireland: Evidence from County Wicklow

C. E. Kelly, B.W. Ilbery, D.A. Gillmor


Farm diversification is one of a number of strategies available to farmers as they learn to adjust to a period of rapid change in the agricultural industry. This paper examines the growth of farm diversification in one part of Ireland, describes the characteristics of the farms and farmers involved, outlines the main reasons behind the adoption of 'alternative enterprises', and highlights some of the problems involved in their development. Results indicate that farm diversification is biased towards younger, well-educated farmers who have larger than average farm sizes and extensive livestock/arable enterprises. Income benefits and personal interest are the dominant reasons given for the introduction and expansion of alternative enterprises; location and family labour are the least important factors. A new rural development initiative for Ireland, which provides grant aid lor alternative enterprises and agri-tourism, offers a promising future and enormous scope for research on farm diversification.

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