Glossary:Standard output (SO)

The standard output of an agricultural product (crop or livestock), abbreviated as SO, is the average monetary value of the agricultural output at farm-gate price, in euro per hectare or per head of livestock.

There is a regional SO coefficient for each product, as an average value over a reference period (5 years, except for the SO 2004 coefficient calculated using the average of 3 years). The sum of all the SO per hectare of crop and per head of livestock in a farm is a measure of its overall economic size, expressed in euro.

Table 1: Classification of agricultural holdings by type of farming and by survey year

The standard output is used to classify agricultural holdings by type of farming and by economic size.

The common classification of holdings is built on different nested levels. Homogeneous groups of holdings can be assembled in a greater or lower degree of aggregation. Depending on the amount of details required, the types of farming are divided into :

  • general types of farming (1 digit),
    • principal types of farming (2 digits),
      • particular types of farming (3 digits), in earlier years in a few cases split into subdivisions of
        • particular types of farming (4 digits).

Table 1 shows the changes in the classification of agricultural holdings by type of farming between the Farm structure surveys 1985 and 2016.

Until 2007 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 (Commission Decision (EEC) No 377/1985). From FSS 2010 this classification uses standard output (SO) instead of SGM according to Commission Regulation (EC) No 1242/2008, which will be replaced by Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 1198/2014 for FSS 2016 and onwards.

The principle of both concepts SGM and SO is the same; only the way they are calculated differs:

  • SGM = Output + Direct Payments – Costs
  • SO= Output

The decision to leave SGM was driven by the CAP moving from coupled to decoupled payments. Since decoupled direct payments cannot be attributed to any specific production, they were excluded from the calculation. If the cost were kept in the calculation there would be the possibility of negative SGM values in cases where costs were higher that the output. Therefore only the output is taken into account.

The main differences between SO and SGM are:

  • SO excludes direct payments and includes the production costs;
  • the fodder requirement in the case of some livestock characteristics is included in the calculation of the SO;
  • the unit used to measure SO is the euro and not ESU (1 200 Euro) as in the SGM classification.


Figure 1: The use of SO and SGM coefficients in Farm structure surveys in the period 2000-2016

The farm structure survey online database is only available from 1990 onwards.

Figure 1 shows the use of SO and SGM coefficients in Farm structure surveys in the period 1990-2016.

Please find the standard output coefficients tables for each Member State in Eurostat Website at page SO coefficients

Further information

Related concepts


Statistical data

Source data for tables and figures (MS Excel)