Glossary:Farm structure survey (FSS)

The basic Farm structure survey, abbreviated as FSS and also known as Survey on the structure of agricultural holdings, is carried out by all European Union (EU) Member States. The FSS is conducted consistently throughout the EU with a common methodology at a regular base and provides therefore comparable and representative statistics across countries and time, at regional levels (down to NUTS 3 level). Every 3 or 4 years the FSS is carried out as a sample survey, and once in ten years as a census. The 2000 census covers the EU-15 Member States, Latvia, Hungary, Slovenia, Slovakia and Norway, while the 2010 census covers the EU-27 Member States, Croatia, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, Montenegro and Serbia. In 2010 a special survey, the Survey on agricultural production methods (SAPM) was carried out. This survey was carried out together with the FSS 2010 census in some countries, where in other countries the survey was carried out as a sample survey and data were linked to data of the census at the level of the individual holding to enable cross comparisons of characteristics collected in SAPM and characteristics collected in the census. The in between sample surveys of 2003, 2005 and 2007 cover as well at least the EU-27 Member States. The latest 2013 survey covers the EU-28 Member States, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Macedonia. See Table 1 for information on the data available by year and country.

Table 1: Online data available for Farm structure survey by country

The countries collect information from individual agricultural holdings and, observing strict rules of confidentiality, data are forwarded to Eurostat. The information collected in the FSS covers land use, livestock numbers, rural development, management and farm labour input (including the age, gender and relationship to the holder of the agricultural holding). The survey data can then be aggregated by different geographic levels (countries, regions, and for basic surveys also district level). The data can also be arranged by size class, area status, legal status of the holding, objective zone and farm type.

The basic unit underlying the FSS is the agricultural holding: a technical-economic unit, under single management, engaged in agricultural production. The FSS covers all agricultural holdings which meet the minimum requirements set in legislation, see article Farm structure survey - thresholds.

The Farm structure survey (FSS) and the Farm accountancy data network (FADN) have used standard gross margin (SGM) to classify agricultural holdings by type of farming and by economic size - see Commission Decision (EEC) No 377/1985. In the FSS 2010 and onward this classification uses standard output (SO) instead according to Commission Regulation (EC) No 1242/2008.

The legal basis for the FSS is Regulation (EC) No 1166/2008 of 19 November 2008 on farm structure surveys and the survey on agricultural production methods, which repealed Council Regulation (EEC) No 571/88.

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