Though the importance of agriculture to the Irish economy is declining, it is and will be in the foreseeable future a major - if not the largest - sector. The decline in its relative importance is due to the more rapid growth of other sectors and to the long term and worldwide phenomenon of declining agricultural populations. The significance of agriculture may be measured in terms of income generated, numbers employed, and its contribution to the balance of payments. The latter is of particular importance to a small economy heavily dependent on international trade and suffering from a chronic balance of payments problem.


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