Agriculture statistics at regional level

Data extracted in March 2018.

Planned article update: September 2019.


The Spanish region of Castilla y León harvested more barley than any other region in the EU and had the second highest level of harvested production for common wheat and spelt.

Bretagne (France) and Southern and Eastern (Ireland) had the highest levels of cows’ milk production, at 5.5 million tonnes each.

Source: Eurostat

The European Union (EU) is known throughout the world for its food and culinary traditions, while agricultural products form a major part of Europe’s regional and cultural identity. This is, at least in part, due to a diverse range of natural environments, climates and farming practices that feed through into a wide array of agricultural products. In recent years, there has been a pattern of development whereby a growing proportion of EU consumers give increasing importance to the provenance of their food, choosing regional products and traditional specialities.

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Around 40 % of the EU’s land is farmed: this underlines the important impact that farming can have on natural environments, natural resources, wildlife as well as soil and water quality. Farmers are increasingly being asked to manage the countryside for the benefit of all Europeans, delivering a public good through their maintenance of soils, landscapes and biodiversity, so that the whole of society can benefit from a countryside that is carefully managed and well looked after.

The common agricultural policy (CAP) is managed directly from the EU’s budget and it covers all EU Member States. Its main aims are to ensure that EU farmers provide a stable and safe supply of food, produced in a sustainable way at affordable prices for more than 500 million consumers across the EU. At the same time, it aims to ensure that farmers and other agricultural workers can make a reasonable living.

The challenges for EU agriculture continue to develop, among which: climate change; protecting animal welfare; sustainable management of natural resources and looking after the countryside for future generations; keeping rural economies alive; or helping to ensure viable food production for the world’s rapidly expanding population. Farmers are encouraged to adopt environmentally sustainable farming methods to receive full income support payments. In practice this means that they have to maintain existing permanent grassland areas and grow a minimum number of crops (to promote biodiversity); they may receive additional support if they choose to adopt more rigorous practices with respect to environmental protection.

This article presents regional agricultural statistics within the European Union (EU) and provides a selection of Eurostat’s data within this domain, including information covering the structure of agriculture, cereals production, areas under vines, as well as animal production (livestock specialisation and cowsmilk production).

Structure of agriculture

There were 10.8 million farms in the EU-28 in 2013. These were principally located in eastern parts of the EU, with approximately one third of the total (33.5 %) in Romania, while more than one in eight (13.2 %) were in Poland. The next highest shares were recorded in Italy (9.3% of the farms in the EU-28), Spain (8.9 %) and Greece (6.5 %), with none of the other EU Member States reporting shares in excess of 5.0 %.

A large part of the farms in the EU are small. In 2013, 83 % of all EU farms were small (defined here as those farms with a standard output of less than EUR 25 thousand). Small farms are common in eastern and southern parts of the EU. Map 1 presents an analysis of average farm size (in terms of standard output) for NUTS level 2 regions in 2013. The average size of the 10.8 million farms in the EU-28 was EUR 30.5 thousand of standard output. Note, however, that the survey coverage varies between EU Member States and that this may impact the results presented below, as the use of different thresholds to exclude the smallest farms has a big impact on the average size.

The largest average sizes of farms in the EU — as measured by standard output — were most commonly found in the Netherlands and Germany

There was a considerable variation in the average size of farms between EU Member States and regions. There were 35 regions across the EU-28 where the standard output per farm averaged at least EUR 200 thousand (as shown by the darkest shade in Map 1). These regions were located in the Netherlands (every region except for Zeeland), Germany (eight NUTS level 1 regions), Belgium (four regions), Denmark, France and the United Kingdom (three regions each), the Czech Republic (two regions) and Slovakia (one region). Standard output per farm peaked at EUR 542 thousand in the German region of Sachsen-Anhalt, while two other German regions — Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Thüringen — were also present among a ranking of the four regions with the largest farms in economic terms (all with an average standard output in excess of EUR 400 thousand); they were joined by the Dutch region of Zuid-Holland.

At the other end of the range, there were 69 regions in the EU-28 where farms generated, on average, less than EUR 25 thousand of standard output in 2013 (as shown by the lightest shade); many of these farms are family-run and some may be characterised as subsistence farms. All of the Bulgarian, Greek, Croatian, Hungarian and Romanian regions figured in this list, along with 11 of the 16 Polish regions, five Spanish regions, four regions each from Italy and Portugal, two from Austria and single regions from France and Ireland, as well as Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania and Malta (all single regions at this level of detail) and Slovenia (only national data available). As such, the vast majority of these regions with a low average size were in eastern or southern parts of the EU. The region with the lowest level of standard output per farm (EUR 2 600) was Sud-Vest Oltenia in Romania (if the two Spanish autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla are excluded from the analysis).
Map 1: Average economic size of farm holdings, by NUTS 2 regions, 2013
(thousand EUR)
Source: Eurostat (ef_kvecsleg)


Arable land is often used for the production of cereals, one of the most important outputs of the EU’s agricultural sector. Cereals are used primarily for human consumption and animal feed, but they are also used to make drinks and for industrial products (for example, starch). Cereals production in the EU is principally located in lowland regions, characterised by large plains, with a temperate climate and relatively modest levels of rainfall.

In 2016, the area of agricultural land that was used for the production of cereals (including rice) in the EU-28 was 57.2 million hectares. The EU-28’s harvested production of cereals was 301.7 million tonnes, which marked the second consecutive annual reduction in cereals output and an overall fall of 9.3 % when compared with the most recent peak for cereals output, 332.6 million tonnes in 2014.

The highest levels of total cereals production in the EU (as shown by the size of the circles in Map 2) generally ran in a band from Spain, up through western and northern France, into eastern England, Germany, Denmark, Poland and Latvia, with relatively high levels of production in northern Italy, Hungary and Romania. In 2016, the harvested production of cereals reached at least 5.0 million tonnes in: Sud - Muntenia (Romania), Latvia (a single region at this level of detail), East of England (a NUTS level 1 region), Centre (France), Niedersachsen and Bayern (Germany; both NUTS level 1 regions) and Castilla y León (Spain); the highest level of output in the EU was recorded in the last of these, at 9.0 million tonnes.

The Spanish region of Castilla y León harvested more barley than any other region in the EU and also recorded the second highest level of regional production for common wheat and spelt

There is considerable diversity in relation to the types of cereal that are grown in the EU, with regional specialisation reflecting, at least to some degree, typography, soil type, climate and rainfall, or competing land uses. As well as showing the total level of harvested cereals production for each of the NUTS level 2 regions in 2016, Map 2 also provides information on the most commonly grown cereal in each region (as shown by the colour of each circle).

The most commonly grown category of cereals in the EU-28 was common wheat and spelt. Its production was particularly concentrated in northern and central France (but also Midi-Pyrénées) and England and Wales in the United Kingdom, as well as the majority of the regions in the Benelux Member States, Germany, Denmark and the more southerly regions of Sweden. Common wheat and spelt was also grown more than any other type of cereal in a band of regions stretching from eastern Austria, through the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and into the Baltic Member States, and was also the most common cereal for several regions in southern Romania and Bulgaria. In 2016, the highest levels of regional production for common wheat and spelt were in East of England (a NUTS level 1 region; 4.3 million tonnes), Castilla y León (Spain; 4.0 million tonnes).

There were also a large number of regions in the EU where grain maize and corn-cob mix was the most commonly grown cereal in 2016. The highest concentration of regions specialising in grain maize and corn-cob mix were in southern EU Member States, with a band of regions running from Portugal, through parts of Spain, across much of southern France (and Alsace) into northern regions of Italy, southern and western regions in Austria, most of Hungary, and eastern parts of Croatia and Slovenia, while grain maize and corn-cob mix was also the most commonly grown cereal in northern Romania, two regions in Bulgaria and several regions of Greece. The highest levels of regional production were in Aquitaine (France; 2.7 million tonnes), Kontinentalna Hrvatska (Croatia; 2.1 million tonnes) and Dél-Dunántúl (Hungary; also 2.1 million tonnes).
Map 2: Harvested production of cereals (including seed) and most commonly grown cereals, by NUTS 2 regions, 2016
(million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (agr_r_acs)

The regions where barley was the most commonly grown cereal were often characterised as being more remote or mountainous regions of the EU, generally in northern or southern EU Member States, for example in central and northern Finland and Sweden, the south-eastern regions of Spain, or the Greek islands. Barley was also the most commonly grown cereal in a band of regions covering both regions in Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland (in the United Kingdom), as well as in two mountainous Austrian regions, the western regions of Croatia and Slovenia, and single regions from each of Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands. In 2016, the highest levels of regional production for barley were in the Spanish regions of Castilla y León (3.3 million tonnes) and Castilla-la Mancha (2.6 million tonnes).

In contrast to the situation for other cereals, there were relatively few regions in the EU which specialised in growing durum wheat or rye and winter cereal mixtures (maslin). Durum wheat was the most commonly grown type of cereal in central and southern parts of Italy, two regions in southern France and a single region in the south of Spain, as well as several Greek regions and Cyprus. The highest levels of harvested production in the EU were recorded in Puglia (1.3 million tonnes) and Sicilia (0.8 million tonnes). Rye and maslin was the most commonly grown cereal crop in just one region of the EU, the mountainous Italian Provincia Autonoma di Bolzano/Bozen. However, the highest regional level of production was in two German regions, Brandenburg and Niedersachsen (both 0.8 million tonnes).
Figure 1: NUTS 2 regions with the highest levels of production for selected cereals, 2016
(million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (agr_r_acs)


The EU is the world’s leading producer of wine, accounting for more than half of global production and consumption. The quality and price of wine varies from one year to another, reflecting — among others — weather conditions, yields and changes in supply and demand for different types of wine. Several regions, principally in southern parts of the EU, depend to a large degree on economic activities that are directly or indirectly linked to winemaking and its commercialisation.

There has been a general decline in EU-28 wine consumption in recent years, which largely reflects changing consumption patterns (especially in southern Europe), as table wines which were drunk on a daily basis with meals have, to some degree, been replaced by higher value, quality wines as well as other alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.

Protected designation of origin (PDO) and protected geographical indication (PGI)
Quality wines are defined as those covered by two distinct EU schemes: protected designation of origin (PDO), a label for European food/drink with a guaranteed geographical origin using recognised know-how (and grapes exclusively from the area in question); protected geographical indication (PGI), a label for European quality food closely linked to a certain region (with at least 85 % of grapes coming from the area in question). Through these logos, consumers can easily recognise quality products and rely on their authenticity, while they also provide producers in the EU with legal protection against imitation or misuse.

Note the vineyard data collection focuses more on the structural potential of vineyards and hence the classification is based on compliance with PDO/PGI specifications rather than on ‘wine certification’ decisions that are taken by the growers each year.

In 2015, some 3.2 million hectares of land in the EU-28 was under vines (in/not yet in production); this area was spread across 17 different EU Member States (that each had more than 500 hectares of vines). More than three quarters (78.1 %) of the total land area under vines in the EU was used for the production of quality wines, either PDO wines (61.7 %) or PGI wines (16.4 %). Map 3 clearly shows that the distribution of areas under vines was heavily skewed in favour of southern regions of the EU. The size of each circle reflects the total area that was under vines for each NUTS level 2 region, while the colour shades provide information on the propensity to produce quality wines; a darker shade indicates a greater share of the total area under vines was devoted to the production of quality wines.

There were only four regions in the EU where more than 100 thousand hectares of land was under vines — Castilla-la Mancha, Languedoc-Roussillon, Aquitaine and Puglia

In 2015, there were 18 NUTS level 2 regions in the EU where the total area under vines was greater than 50 thousand hectares; together these regions accounted for 61 % of the total area under vines in the EU. These 18 regions were evenly distributed between the largest wine producers in the EU, with five regions from each of Spain, France and Italy; there were also two regions from Portugal and a single region from Romania.

By far the largest area under vines in 2015 was in the central Spanish region of Castilla-la Mancha (434 thousand hectares); this was almost twice as high as the second largest area, recorded in the southern French region of Languedoc-Roussillon (239 thousand hectares). Aquitaine (south-west France; 144 thousand hectares) and Puglia (southern Italy; 101 thousand hectares) were the only other regions in the EU where the area under vines for the production of wine was in excess of 100 thousand hectares.

Given the gradual shift in consumer tastes away from table wine, it is unsurprising to find that European wine growers are increasingly adopting vines with the potential for producing higher quality wines. For example, in 2015, some 95.7 % of the area under vines in Castilla-la Mancha was for the production of quality wines, while the corresponding share for Aquitaine was only slightly lower, at 93.0 %. Some well-known examples of the vast array of quality wines produced in the EU’s leading wine-producing regions include: Valdepeñas and La Mancha from Castilla-la Mancha; Fitou and Corbières from Languedoc-Roussillon; St-Émilion and Entre-Deux-Mers from Aquitaine; Salice Salento and Primitivo di Manduria from Puglia.

The share of quality wines in the total area under vines was generally much lower across most wine-producing regions of eastern Europe, as well as in parts of Greece. It is also interesting to note the very low share (5.4 %) of quality wine production in the western French region of Poitou-Charentes (which had the ninth largest area under vines in 2015); this may be attributed to its grape production being predominantly used to distil Cognac or Pineau de Charente.
Map 3: Area of vines for quality wines, by NUTS 2 regions, 2015
(thousand hectares under vines and share of area under vines which is used to produce grapes for quality wines)
Source: Eurostat (vit_t1)

Figure 2 provides a more detailed analysis of the total area under vines for the five most common types of grape varieties that are planted across the EU. In 2015, the most common variety was Airén, a drought-resistant white wine grape that is native to central Spain and in particular the region of Castilla-la Mancha. The Trebbiano toscano grape was principally grown in Poitou-Charentes and, as noted above, is principally used to manufacture strong alcohols.

The most common red wine grape varieties included Merlot noir, Garnacha tinta and Cabernet Sauvignon. The last of these was quite widely spread across the EU; its largest area was located in Aquitaine, where it is often blended with Merlot Noir to produce some of the most famous red wines of Bordeaux. Garnacha tinta (sometimes referred to as Grenache) is one of the most widely planted red wine grape varieties in the world; in the EU its largest areas ran from Castilla-la Mancha and Aragón in Spain, through into southern France, covering large areas of Languedoc-Roussillon, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur and Rhône-Alpes.
Figure 2: NUTS 2 regions with the largest areas under vines, by selected grape varities, 2015
(thousand hectares)
Source: Eurostat (vit_t4)


The information presented in Map 4 covers livestock farming in the EU, presenting information in relation to bovines, swine (pigs), sheep and goats; note it excludes poultry as well as other less common animal types. The total livestock population for these four types of animals in the EU-28 was estimated to be 336 million head in 2016. Pigs were the most commonly reared animals (147.2 million head of swine), followed by 89.1 million head of bovine animals, 87.1 million head of sheep and 12.8 million head of goats (the latter two figures being estimates made specifically for the purpose of this publication).

In 2016, Spain, Germany, France and the United Kingdom held the largest overall populations of livestock: the greatest number of pigs were raised in Spain and Germany, while France raised the highest number of bovine animals and the United Kingdom had, by far, the largest population of sheep; Greece had the largest number of goats.

There were 4.1 million head of bovine animals in Southern and Eastern (Ireland) and 8.6 million head of swine in Niedersachsen (Germany)

Map 4 shows patterns of regional specialisation for livestock; note this is not based simply on a count of the number of head of each type of animal, but is rather determined in relation to the EU-28 average and therefore shows a relative rather than absolute measure of specialisation. When considering these livestock populations it should be remembered that some regions are larger than others and that data for Germany and the United Kingdom are shown for NUTS level 1 regions.

Several EU Member States had clear livestock rearing specialisations that were common to most of their regions in 2016: this was the case for goats in Greece, swine in Denmark or Poland, bovines in the Czech Republic, Ireland, Slovenia or Sweden, as well as sheep in the United Kingdom. By contrast, a more diverse picture was apparent in a number of Member States, including Spain, France, Italy, Portugal or Slovakia, with no clear national specialisation across different regions.

Counts of livestock vary considerably between regions, reflecting not only the size of each region but also its landscape, climate and alternative uses for land (not just agricultural). Among the 87 regions in the EU which were relatively specialised in rearing bovines in 2016, there were 12 where the number of head rose above one million. Half of these were located in France (Rhône-Alpes, Limousin, Bourgogne, Auvergne, Basse-Normandie and Pays de la Loire), two were from Germany (Schleswig-Holstein and Bayern; note these are both NUTS level 1 regions), while there were also single regions from Poland (the capital city region of Mazowieckie) and the United Kingdom (Northern Ireland; also a NUTS level 1 region). The final two regions were both in Ireland, namely, Border, Midland and Western, and Southern and Eastern, the latter of which had the highest count, at 4.1 million head.

There were 54 regions in the EU that were relatively specialised in rearing swine, of which 24 regions recorded in excess of a million head, with half of these having more than two million heads. The highest numbers of swine were raised in: three regions in Denmark, two regions in Germany (both NUTS level 1 regions, including Niedersachsen, which had the highest count in the EU, at 8.6 million heads), two regions in Spain (including Cataluña, which had the second highest count, at 7.6 million heads), as well as single regions from each of Belgium, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Poland. As well as in Niedersachsen and Cataluña, there were more than 7.0 million heads raised in Nordrhein-Westfalen (Germany), Bretagne (France) and Aragón (Spain).

There were 45 regions in the EU where the rearing of goats was the most specialised (relative to the EU average) form of livestock farming in 2016. The southern Spanish region of Andalucía (1.1 million heads) was the only region in the EU to record more than one million goats, with Castilla-la Mancha (another Spanish region) and the Greek island region of Kriti the only regions where the population of goats was higher than half a million.

Finally, there were 37 regions across the EU where rearing sheep was the most specialised (relative to the EU average) form of livestock farming in 2016. A total of 15 of these regions had more than one million head of sheep, among which eight regions had more than two million head. The largest sheep populations were in the west and north of the United Kingdom (NUTS level 1 regions), with the highest counts in Wales (6.2 million heads) and Scotland (5.0 million heads), while the third largest sheep population in the EU was in the Spanish region of Extremadura (3.5 million heads).
Map 4: Relative livestock specialisation and head of livestock, by NUTS 2 regions, 2016
(based on % share of livestock in the EU-28)
Source: Eurostat (agr_r_animal), (apro_mt_lscatl), (apro_mt_lspig), (apro_mt_lssheep) and (apro_mt_lsgoat)

Cows’ milk production peaked at 5.5 million tonnes in Bretagne (north-west France) and Southern and Eastern (Ireland)

Dairy pasture and arable land for fodder crops are most often combined in regions characterised by temperate climates with a relatively high degree of rainfall. There were 44 NUTS level 2 regions in the EU where cows’ milk production rose to more than a million tonnes in 2016 (as shown by the darkest shade in Map 5) and together these regions accounted for 56 % of the milk produced in the EU.

The most specialised regions for dairy cow farming in the EU were found across Denmark, Germany, Ireland, parts of France and Poland, as well as several Alpine regions and much of western England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland (in the United Kingdom). In regions where grassland is more scarce (for example, around the Mediterranean or in south-eastern parts of the EU) dairy cow farming tends to be relatively uncommon and may be substituted by sheep or goat farming, especially when livestock farmers are confronted with relatively arid landscapes, less favourable climatic conditions, or farming in upland areas.

In 2016, the highest levels of cows’ milk production in the EU were in Bretagne (north-west France) and the Southern and Eastern region of Ireland, as output stood at 5.5 million tonnes in both of these regions. The third highest level of cows’ milk production was in Lombardia (northern Italy; 4.7 million tonnes), while Pays de la Loire, Basse-Normandie (both France), Weser-Ems and Schleswig-Holstein (both Germany) were the only other regions in the EU where cows’ milk production was at least 3.0 million tonnes.
Map 5: Cows' milk production, by NUTS 2 regions, 2016
(thousand tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (agr_r_milkpr) and (apro_mk_farm)

Source data for figures and maps

Data sources

A comprehensive farm structure survey (FSS) is carried out by EU Member States every 10 years, based on the agricultural census, the last of which was conducted in 2010; it is a major source of agricultural statistics. Intermediate sample surveys are carried out twice between these basic surveys, with the latest farm structure survey conducted for the 2013 reference year. There was a survey conducted for the 2016 reference year although the results of this were not yet available at the time of writing. In these surveys, EU Member States collect information from individual agricultural holdings, covering: the use of agricultural land; livestock numbers; rural development (for example, activities other than agriculture); management and farm labour input (including age, sex and relationship to the holder). The legal basis for the farm structure survey is provided by a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on farm structure surveys and the survey on agricultural production methods (EC) No 1166/2008, together with an implementing Regulation (EC) No 1200/2009. Thresholds used for the farm structure survey are generally set so as to include farms with a utilised agricultural area over one hectare, although thresholds are raised to two hectares for Slovakia, three hectares for Luxembourg, and five hectares for the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany and the United Kingdom.

The legal basis for crop statistics is Regulation (EC) No 543/2009 which was updated with the Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2015/1557. It is supplemented by an ESS agreement. Crop statistics cover harvested production, areas under cultivation, main areas and yields.

Eurostat collects data on the structure of vineyards which are used by the European Commission to analyse production potential and manage the EU’s wine sector. The legal basis for vineyard statistics is Regulation (EU) No 1337/2011. The vineyard survey covers vines for wine, dried grapes and dual purpose grapes. Vines producing only table grapes are excluded. The area under vines includes all areas in production and areas that are not yet in production. Data are collected only for EU Member States on whose territory the area of vines cultivated for purposes other than table grapes is at least 500 hectares.

The legal basis for livestock statistics is Regulation (EC) No 1165/2008, while milk and milk product statistics are collected under Decision 97/80/EC implementing Directive 96/16/EC on statistical surveys of milk and milk products.

For more information:

Dedicated section on agriculture

Agricultural statistics — methodology


The CAP is one of the EU's oldest policies, supporting farmers and ensuring Europe's food security. It aims:

  • to support farmers and improve agricultural productivity, so that consumers have a stable supply of affordable food;
  • to ensure that EU farmers can make a reasonable living;
  • to help tackle climate change and the sustainable management of natural resources;
  • to maintain rural areas and landscapes across the EU;
  • to keep the rural economy alive promoting jobs in farming, agri-foods industries and associated sectors.

The CAP is a common policy for all the Member States of the EU. It is managed for the EU as a whole and funded from the resources of the EU’s budget.

The CAP takes action in three ways:

  • Income support. Direct payments ensure income stability, and remunerate farmers for environmentally friendly farming and delivering public goods not normally paid for by the markets, such as taking care of the countryside.
  • Market measures. The EU can take measures to deal with difficult market situations such as a sudden drop in demand due to a health scare, or a fall in prices as a result of a temporary oversupply on the market.
  • Rural development measures. National and regional programmes address the specific needs and challenges facing rural areas.

The current CAP programming period finishes in 2020. The European Commission has made a proposal to reform the CAP. Under these plans, the future CAP would continue to ensure access to high-quality food and strong support for the EU's farming model with an increased focus on the environment and climate, supporting the transition towards a more sustainable agricultural sector and the development of vibrant rural areas.

The nine objectives proposed for the future CAP are:

  • to ensure a fair income to farmers;
  • to increase competitiveness;
  • to rebalance the power in the food chain;
  • climate change action;
  • environmental care;
  • to preserve landscapes and biodiversity;
  • to support generational renewal;
  • vibrant rural areas;
  • to protect food and health quality;

The European Commission's proposals aim for a more flexible system, simplifying and modernising the way the CAP works for farmers and society at large. The proposed policy would shift the emphasis from compliance and rules towards results and performance. Furthermore, it would give more freedom to EU Member States, for example to decide on the way to meet common objectives set for the EU while responding to the specific needs of their farmers and rural communities.

The proposal for the new CAP will be discussed in the European Parliament and Council and are expected to be in force from 2021 onwards.

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This article forms part of Eurostat’s annual flagship publication, the Eurostat regional yearbook.