Fridge full of well chilled and fresh food

Food and farming in Northern Ireland

What type of farming is in Northern Ireland?

Farming is Northern Ireland’s biggest industry. 75% of Northern Ireland’s land is used for agriculture. Meat, dairy, and eggs is the largest sector, accounting for over 80% of agricultural output. This compares to around 50% for the UK average.

Farming animals uses more land, water, and chemicals than growing crops like potatoes, carrots, and peas. Meat and dairy production also uses lots of antibiotics that can enter the food chain and affect human health.

Factory farms are big polluters

This high dependence on farm animals has serious consequences. Factory farming is a major cause of climate change. Nearly a third of Northern Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions come from agriculture.

Factory farming pollutes air, water, and land too. Some 90% of protected sites are damaged by farm pollution. While the rest of the UK’s farm pollution is declining, Northern Ireland’s is increasing. A rise in huge pig and chicken farms is the culprit.

Pig Business in Northern Ireland

Pig Business in Northern Ireland is a short film made by Farms Not Factories, which exposes the devastating impacts of mega pig-factory production units.

If Northern Ireland goes ahead with plans for new mega factory farms, where does all that animal excrement end up?

Farming strategy encourages factory farms

The Going for Growth agriculture strategy proposes more intensive factory farms be built. That means more pollution, more animals kept in intolerable conditions, and more heavy lorries on quiet country roads.

This is Northern Ireland's dirty secret.

We want to see a ban on all new intensive cattle, pig, and chicken farms.

Safe, healthy food that doesn't harm the environment

It doesn’t have to be like this. We have a vision for farming in Northern Ireland – one that protects the environment, is kinder to animals, and produces healthy food for people.

There are around 25,000 farms in Northern Ireland. Most of them are small family farms run by one or two farmers.

If followed through, Going for Growth would leave just 6,000 large automated factory farms.