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Towards Measurement of Farm Sustainability - an Irish case study

  • Dillon, Emma J.
  • Hennessy, Thia C.
  • Hynes, Stephen

Sustainability Indicators (economic, environmental and social) are developed here using Irish National Farm Survey (FADN) data over a ten-year period (1996-2006) in an attempt to measure the sustainability of Irish agriculture at the farm-level. The general concept of sustainability is discussed and the development of agricultural sustainability indicators in an Irish context described. Individual indicators are dealt with in turn and the RERC SMILE (microsimulation) model is used to demonstrate how these indicators can be mapped at electoral division level. Economic viability was found to be generally in decline over the ten-year period examined, however, when individual farming systems were taken into account, some were found to perform better than others. Unsurprisingly the more intensive farming systems (primarily dairy) were found to pollute more on average. Irish agriculture is experiencing a period of fundamental change, not least in terms of the ever-changing rural demographic; the challenge therefore lies in ensuring that farms remain economically, environmentally and socially sustainable in the long-term.

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File URL: http://purl.umn.edu/51786
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Paper provided by International Association of Agricultural Economists in its series 2009 Conference, August 16-22, 2009, Beijing, China with number 51786.

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Date of creation: Aug 2009
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Handle: RePEc:ags:iaae09:51786
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  1. Pirazzoli, Carlo & Castellini, Alessandra, 2000. "Application of a Model for Evaluating the Environmental Sustainability of Cultures in Hill and Mountain Areas: The Case of Berries and Fruit Chestnuts in Northern Italy," Agricultural Economics Review, Greek Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 1(1), January.
  2. Zhou, P. & Ang, B.W. & Poh, K.L., 2006. "Comparing aggregating methods for constructing the composite environmental index: An objective measure," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(3), pages 305-311, September.
  3. Pannell, David J. & Glenn, Nicole A., 2000. "A framework for the economic evaluation and selection of sustainability indicators in agriculture," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 135-149, April.
  4. Gomez-Limon, Jose Antonio & Riesgo, Laura, 2008. "Alternative Approaches On Constructing A Composite Indicator To Measure Agricultural Sustainability," 107th Seminar, January 30-February 1, 2008, Sevilla, Spain 6489, European Association of Agricultural Economists.
  5. Andrew Sharpe, 2004. "Literature Review of Frameworks for Macro-indicators," CSLS Research Reports 2004-03, Centre for the Study of Living Standards.
  6. van Calker, K.J. & Berentsen, P.B.M. & Romero, C. & Giesen, G.W.J. & Huirne, R.B.M., 2006. "Development and application of a multi-attribute sustainability function for Dutch dairy farming systems," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(4), pages 640-658, June.
  7. Layte, Richard & Maitre, Bernard & Nolan, Brian & Watson, Dorothy & Williams, James & Casey, Barra, 2001. "Monitoring Poverty Trends and Exploring Poverty Dynamics in Ireland," Research Series, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), number PRS41.
  8. Thia Hennessy & Mark O’ Brien, 2006. "The Contribution of Off-Farm Income to the Viability of Farming in Ireland," Working Papers 0613, Rural Economy and Development Programme,Teagasc.
  9. Hansen, J. W., 1996. "Is agricultural sustainability a useful concept?," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 50(2), pages 117-143.
  10. Whelan, Christopher T. & Maitre, Bertrand & Nolan, Brian, 2007. "Multiple Deprivation and Multiple Disadvantage in Ireland: An Analysis of EU-SILC," Research Series, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), number PRS61.
  11. Alan Matthews & Jean-Christophe Bureau, 2005. "EU Agricultural Policy: What Developing Countries Need to Know," The Institute for International Integration Studies Discussion Paper Series iiisdp91, IIIS.
  12. Bohringer, Christoph & Jochem, Patrick E.P., 2007. "Measuring the immeasurable -- A survey of sustainability indices," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(1), pages 1-8, June.
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