Statistics Explained

Agriculture statistics at regional level



Data extracted in May 2022.

Planned article update: September 2023.

Highlights

3 out of the 5 EU regions with the highest share of farm managers aged less than 35 years in 2016 were located in Austria; Salzburg 15.7% had the highest share and was also the only region where organic farming accounted for more than half of the total utilised agricultural area

Thessalia and Peloponnisos (both Greece; 2018 data) and Severozapaden (Bulgaria; 2019 data) were the only regions in the EU where agriculture accounted for a double-digit percentage share of value added

Source: Eurostat (ef_m_farmang)

Agricultural products, food and culinary traditions are a major part of the European Union’s (EU’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.

Around two fifths (38.2 %) of the EU’s land is farmed: this underlines the important impact that farming can have on natural environments, natural resources and wildlife. Farmers in the EU are increasingly being encouraged to manage the countryside as a public good, so that the whole of society can benefit.

One of the characteristics of EU’s farm managers presented here is their age. The EU is stepping up its efforts to encourage younger people into farming, by providing help to get their business off the ground with start-up grants, income support and benefits such as additional training. In 2016, three out of the five NUTS level 2 regions with the highest shares of younger farm managers (aged less than 35 years) were located in Austria. Salzburg (15.7 %) had the highest share – see the infographic – and was also the only region where organic farming accounted for more than half of the total utilised agricultural area. By contrast, there were four regions in Portugal where more than half of all farm managers were aged 65 years or over, with the highest percentage share in Algarve (63.1 %).

This chapter presents regional agricultural statistics focusing on three areas: the agricultural labour force, with a particular focus on younger farm managers; agricultural land use, the total area and the share of utilised agricultural area that is given over to permanent grassland and arable land; and economic accounts for agriculture – that provide an overall picture of the performance of agricultural activity – through the ratio of intermediate consumption to output and the share of total value added from agriculture.

Full article

Agricultural labour force

In 2016, there were 10.3 million farms in the EU; together they used 157 million hectares of land for agriculture. The EU’s farm labour force was composed of 20.0 million persons. To take account of part-time and seasonal work, both of which are widespread in agriculture, labour input can be measured in annual work units (AWUs): one such unit corresponds to the input, measured in working time, of one person engaged in agricultural activities on a farm on a full-time basis over an entire year. On this basis, there were 9.0 million AWUs in the EU’s labour force directly working on farms – be they farm owners/managers, family or non-family labour.

Farm managers

Farm managers are the people responsible for the normal daily financial and production routines of running a farm, such as what and how much to plant or rear and what labour, materials and equipment to employ. Often the farm manager is also the owner (otherwise referred to as the ’holder’) of the farm but this need not be the case, especially when the farm has a separate legal identity.

The agriculture sector is characterised by slow generational renewal and a high average age of farm managers; these characteristics are widespread across most EU Member States, but particularly concentrated in some. Agriculture also takes many different forms across the EU: from large-scale, intensive farms that cover large swathes of land to very small, semi-subsistence holdings. There is often a difference in the ownership and management of these farms: the former may be owned by large enterprises that install professionally-trained managers, whereas the latter are more likely to be family-owned and run, often on a part-time basis. The vast majority of farms in the EU are very small and provide work for less than one full-time worker (an average 0.87 AWUs per farm). Many small farms are semi-subsistence farms, with farm managers continuing to work part-time long after normal retirement age, to provide in part for their own needs. Some farm holders may have difficulties in encouraging their offspring to take over family farms, as younger family members may have negative perceptions concerning careers in agriculture and prefer to look elsewhere for work in professions/occupations that provide more time for leisure and greater financial reward. Access to finance, land, capital and knowledge are also particular concerns for many young people considering working in agriculture.

Around 5 % of all farm managers in the EU were aged less than 35 years

There were 528 000 younger farm managers — defined here as those aged less than 35 years — across the EU in 2016; note that the definition employed for younger farm managers is different to the general definition of youths that is utilised across most of this publication (people aged 16–29 years). Younger farm managers accounted for approximately 1 in 20 (or 5.1 %) of all farm managers in the EU. The share of younger farm managers was highest in Austria (12.2 %), while Slovakia (11.1 %) and Poland (10.2 %) were the only other EU Member States where younger farm managers accounted for a double-digit share. By contrast, younger farm managers accounted for less than 4.0 % of all farm managers in Finland, Spain, Malta, Greece, Romania and Denmark, and less than 2.0 % of all farm managers in Cyprus (1.3 %) and Portugal (1.9 %).

Although most of the EU population has settled into retirement by the age of 65, a relatively high share of farm managers continue to work beyond this age. In 2016, almost one third (32.8 %) of all farm managers in the EU were older farm managers — defined here as those aged 65 years or over. There were 3.4 million older farm managers in the EU, where the ratio of younger to older farm managers was approximately 1 : 6 (or 0.16).

Map 1 provides a more detailed analysis for the ratio of younger to older farm managers by NUTS level 2 regions; note that national data are presented for Ireland, Croatia and Lithuania in this section. The regional distribution of this ratio was heavily skewed, insofar as there were 162 regions with a ratio that was equal to or above the EU average of 0.16 in 2016, compared with 64 regions that had ratios below the EU average. This reflects, at least in part, the average size of farms, with very high numbers of relatively small farms concentrated in some southern and eastern regions of the EU.

In 2016, there were 34 regions across the EU where the ratio of younger to older farm managers was equal to or greater than 1.00 indicating that there were at least as many younger farm managers as there were older ones. Among these, there were 23 regions where the ratio of younger to older farm managers was equal to or greater than 1.20 (as shown by the darkest shade of blue in Map 1). They were concentrated in four EU Member States, principally in Germany, Austria (both seven regions) and Poland (six regions), while there were also three regions in France. The highest ratios of younger to older farm managers were recorded in Austria: Salzburg (3.94), Niederösterreich (2.14) and Oberösterreich (2.06) were the only NUTS level 2 regions where the number of younger farm managers was at least twice as high as the number of older farm managers. Note these figures reflect, at least to some degree, attitudes towards and the propensity of older farm managers to retire, with those aged 65 years or over accounting for less than 10.0 % of all farm managers in Finland (9.7 %), Germany (8.2 %) and Austria (7.3 %).

The infographic at the start of this chapter shows that close to one sixth (15.7 %) of all farm managers in Salzburg were aged less than 35 years. This was the highest share recorded across NUTS level 2 regions in 2016, followed by Franche-Comté in eastern France (13.9 %), Bratislavský kraj (the capital region of Slovakia; 13.6 %), and two other Austrian regions – Tirol (13.2 %) and Oberösterreich (13.1 %).

The ratio of younger to older farm managers was relatively low (less than 0.15) across most southern and several eastern regions of the EU in 2016 (as shown by the two lightest shades in Map 1). These included, among others, the vast majority of regions in Greece, Spain, Italy, Portugal and Romania, and the Mediterranean islands of Cyprus and Malta. This group also included three regions each from Denmark and Sweden as well as one region each from Czechia and France. There were seven regions in the EU where the ratio of younger to older farm managers was less than 0.05 (in other words, where for every younger farm manager there were more than 20 older farm managers). Five of these regions were in Portugal, where more than half (51.9 %) of all farm managers were aged 65 years or over. The lowest ratios (0.03) of younger to older farm managers were reported in the Portuguese regions of Algarve, Centro, Área Metropolitana de Lisboa and Região Autónoma da Madeira, and in Cyprus. The other two regions with a ratio of less than 0.05 were Ionia Nisia in Greece and Norte in Portugal.

Map 1: Ratio of younger to older farm managers, 2016
(by NUTS 2 regions)
Source: Eurostat (ef_m_farmang)

Trained farm managers

Aside from their vital role of providing inputs for food processing, the EU’s farm managers are increasingly being asked to adapt their farming practices in relation to a range of subjects, such as animal welfare, protection of natural habitats and landscapes and other environmental aspects. To do so, farm managers and their workforces will likely need to reskill, among other things, to use emerging digital technologies, become data analysts and rural innovators.

A farm manager is considered to have full agricultural training if they have taken and completed a training course for the equivalent of at least two years full-time training after the end of compulsory education. The course – in agriculture, horticulture, viticulture, silviculture, pisciculture, veterinary science, agricultural technology or an associated subject – should be at an agricultural college, university or other institute of higher education.

In 2016, of the 10.3 million farm managers in the EU, some 916 000 (or 8.9 %) had received full agricultural training. In other words, the overwhelming majority of farm managers had not received training in a higher education establishment. There were however considerable differences between EU Member States. For example, a majority (52.8 %) of farm managers in Luxembourg had completed full agricultural training, while this share was also higher than one third in Czechia (38.7 %) and France (34.9 %). By contrast, fully trained farm managers accounted for no more than 2.5 % of all farm managers in seven southern and eastern EU Member States (which were characterised by high shares of older farm managers): Portugal, Croatia, Spain, Malta, Greece, Cyprus and Romania (where the lowest share, 0.4 %, was recorded).

Younger farm managers are much more likely to be fully trained than older farm managers

In 2016, slightly more than one fifth (21.6 %) of the EU’s younger farm managers (aged less than 35 years) had completed full agricultural training. The share of trained farm managers progressively falls as a function of age, with very few farm managers aged 65 years or over having completed full agricultural training (2.5 %). Agricultural training is likely, among other consequences, to have an influence on the environmental impact of farming (for example, a higher proportion of younger farm managers implement organic practices – see below for more details).

Figure 1 presents the NUTS level 2 regions that had the highest and lowest shares of trained younger farm managers; it also shows the equivalent share of trained older farm managers. There were 31 regions (out of the 204 for which data are available; national data for Ireland, Croatia and Lithuania), where a majority of younger farm managers in 2016 had received full agricultural training. They were mainly concentrated in France, although this group also included five regions in Germany, single regions from Czechia, Poland and Italy, as well as Luxembourg. At the top of the ranking, there was one German and four French regions where more than four out of every five younger farm managers had completed full agricultural training: Brandenburg (89.2 %), Bretagne (85.4 %), Centre — Val de Loire (83.3 %), Haute-Normandie (82.3 %) and Limousin (80.2 %). One of the most striking aspects of the top half of Figure 1 is the contrast between the shares of younger and older farm managers who were fully trained; it was common to find that the proportion of younger farm managers who had received full agricultural training was at least 10 times as high as the share recorded among older farm managers.

At the other end of the range, there were 50 NUTS level 2 regions across the EU where less than 10.0 % of all younger farm managers were fully trained. These regions were concentrated in southern and eastern regions of the EU, principally in Greece, Spain, Croatia (national data), Cyprus, Hungary and Romania. Among Nordic Member States, there were three Danish regions and two Finnish regions where less than 10.0 % of all younger farm managers were fully trained.

Figure 1: Trained farm managers, 2016
(% of farm managers having completed full agricultural training, selected NUTS 2 regions)
Source: Eurostat (ef_mp_training)

Farm managers implementing organic practices

Consumers are increasingly aware of the provenance of their food and of farming methods: this may explain, at least in part, why a growing proportion of EU farmers implement organic farming methods. In 2016, the EU’s organic agricultural area covered 11.4 million hectares, which corresponded to a 7.1 % share of the total utilised agricultural area. Note the organic area includes the agricultural area fully converted and the agricultural area that is under conversion. Fresher national (rather than regional) data are available and indicate further growth in organic farming across the EU, as its share of the utilised agricultural area rose during four consecutive years to 9.1 % in 2020.

Across the EU, 6.6 % of younger farm managers (aged less than 35 years) implemented organic farming practices in 2016, which was more than twice as high as the corresponding share (2.9 %) for older farm manager (aged 65 years or over). As well as consumer demand, agricultural training is likely to have an influence on the implementation of organic farming methods. Figure 2 shows those regions with the highest and lowest shares of younger farm managers implementing organic practices; it also shows the equivalent share for older farm managers. There were three NUTS level 2 regions (out of the 225 for which data are available; national data for Ireland, Croatia and Lithuania) where at least half of all younger farm managers implemented organic practices: Moravskoslezsko (55.6 %) and Severozápad (50.0 %) in Czechia and Salzburg (51.5 %) in Austria. Two more regions in Czechia – Jihozápad and Střední Morava – as well as Molise in Italy were the only other regions in the EU to report that more than one third of younger farm managers implemented organic practices.

Most of the EU Member States had at least one region with a relatively high share of younger farm managers implementing organic practices in 2016. However, there were often considerable intra-regional differences in the adoption of organic farming practices [1], for example:

  • there were three regions in the southern half of Belgium where 13.3–21.4 % of younger farm managers implemented organic practices (the highest share being in Prov. Luxembourg), whereas the shares recorded in the remaining Belgian regions were close to or below the EU average;
  • Canarias in Spain had a high share (29.7 %) of younger farm managers implementing organic practices, with Principado de Asturias the only other region in Spain to record a double-digit share (10.4 %);
  • the share of younger farm managers implementing organic practices in the southern Italian region of Molise (41.3 %) was considerably higher than in the neighbouring regions of Puglia (7.5 %), Campania (5.5 %) or Abruzzo (2.9 %).

At the other end of the range, there were 20 NUTS level 2 regions where no younger farm managers were implementing organic practices (these are not shown in Figure 2). Every region of Denmark, Poland, Portugal, Romania and Slovenia had a single-digit share of younger farm managers implementing organic practices in 2016; this was also the case in Ireland, Croatia and Lithuania (where only national data are available) and in Cyprus, Latvia, Luxembourg and Malta.

Figure 2: Farmer managers implementing organic practices, 2016
(% of farm managers, selected NUTS 2 regions)
Source: Eurostat (Farm structure survey)

Agricultural land use

Almost two fifths of the EU’s area was accounted for by agricultural land

The EU is a considerable land mass with a diverse range of landscapes covering 4.1 million km². Agricultural land use is the most common form of primary land use, closely followed by forestry. In 2020, the utilised agricultural area of the EU – predominantly composed of arable land, grassland and permanent crops – accounted for 39.5 % of the EU’s land area.

Permanent grassland

Permanent grassland can be found across most of the EU: it is prominent in those areas where livestock is the most popular farming system, or where the land is considered unsuitable for cultivation. Permanent grassland is land that is used for several consecutive years (normally five years or more) to grow herbaceous fodder, forage or energy purpose crops that can be used for grazing, mown for silage and hay, or used for renewable energy production; this land does not form part of farm crop rotation. Permanent grasslands can be extensively or intensively grazed: if farmed using low inputs, they have the potential to, among other results, provide a habitat for various forms of wildlife, maintain healthy and carbon-rich soils that are protected from erosion, produce high-quality forage for livestock.

In 2020, the EU’s total utilised agricultural area was 162.2 million hectares (equivalent to 1.62 million km²). The total area given over to permanent grassland in the EU was 50.7 million hectares. The size of the circles in Map 2 denotes the area of permanent grassland in each region [2]. The largest areas of permanent grassland for NUTS level 1 regions were concentrated in Ireland, north-west Romania and a band of regions running from the west coast of the Iberian peninsula through the southern half of France to the Alps. Ireland and Centro in Spain had 4.1 million hectares and 3.8 million hectares of permanent grassland; these were, by far, the largest areas, accounting for 8.0 % and 7.4 % respectively of the EU total. The third largest area of permanent grassland was in Macroregiunea Unu in Romania (2.1 million hectares).

Almost one third (31.3 %) of the EU’s utilised agricultural area was given over to permanent grassland in 2020. Map 2 also shows – through the use of colour – the relative importance of permanent grassland in terms of its share of the utilised agricultural area in each of the NUTS level 1 regions. The regional distribution of permanent grassland was slightly skewed, insofar as 40 out of the 92 regions for which data are available recorded a share that was above the EU average.

There were 10 NUTS level 1 regions where permanent grassland accounted for at least 58.5 % of the utilised agricultural area in 2020 (as shown by the darkest shade of blue in the map). These regions were located in western and southern EU Member States, reflecting climatic, soil and topographical conditions that have given rise to a range of farming practices that are based around livestock products. Ireland, Noroeste (Spain), Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes (France), Südösterreich, Westösterreich (both Austria) and Região Autónoma dos Açores (Portugal) are characterised by lush, green pastures, whereas Nisia Aigaiou, Kriti (Greece), Corse and parts of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur (both France) have more arid conditions.

The highest share of utilised agricultural area given over to permanent grassland was recorded in Ireland (90.1 %), underlining that Irish agriculture is largely concentrated on cattle or sheep grazing for the production of milk or meat. The island region of Corse in France had the second highest share, as permanent grassland accounted for 89.7 % of its utilised agricultural area; livestock farming in this region is characterised by meat production from cattle as well as milk and cheese production from sheep and goats.

Map 2: Permanent grassland, 2020
(by NUTS 1 regions)
Source: Eurostat (apro_cpshr)

Arable land

Arable land is land that is worked (ploughed or tilled) regularly, generally under a system of crop rotation. It includes land that is used for the production of a wide range of crops for human and animal consumption including cereals, dry pulses and protein crops, root crops, industrial crops (like oilseeds), plants harvested green and vegetables; note this category excludes permanent crops like fruits, grapes, or olives.

Over time, arable farmers have generally adopted more intensive farming practices as they strive for higher yields. However, potential land savings that could have been made from these efficiency gains have, to some degree, been offset by population growth and shifts in dietary patterns. As such, the global area under crops has continued to expand, often preceded by deforestation, with land clearing contributing to global greenhouse gas emissions and biodiversity loss.

In 2020, some 98.8 million hectares or 60.9 % of the EU’s total utilised agricultural area was given over to arable land. The regional distribution of arable land was slightly skewed, insofar as 50 out of the 92 regions for which data are available recorded a share that was above the EU average.

There were 10 NUTS level 1 regions with at least 2.24 million hectares of arable land in 2020 (as shown by the largest circles in Map 3); they were principally concentrated in eastern EU Member States. The largest area of arable land was in the Spanish region of Centro (6.6 million hectares, or 6.6 % of the EU total), followed by the eastern Romanian region of Macroregiunea Doi (3.0 million hectares) and the Bulgarian region of Severna i Yugoiztochna Bulgaria (2.9 million hectares) [3]. The remaining seven regions included Nouvelle-Aquitaine (France), Makroregion północno-zachodni (Poland), Macroregiunea Patru (Romania), Alföld és Észak (Hungary), as well as Czechia, Denmark and Lithuania.

Arable land accounts for a majority of the utilised agricultural area in most of the EU Member States. The relative importance of arable farming was particularly high in Manner-Suomi (Finland), Ile-de-France (the capital region of France) and Denmark; these were the only NUTS level 1 regions where arable land accounted for at least 90.0 % of the utilised agricultural area. There were seven other regions where the share of arable land was at least 84.0 % (as shown by the darkest shade of blue in Map 3): Norra Sverige, Östra Sverige (both Sweden), Bretagne, Hauts-de-France (both France), Dunántúl (Hungary), Makroregion południowo-zachodni (Poland) and Sachsen-Anhalt (Germany).

Map 3: Arable land, 2020
(by NUTS 1 regions)
Source: Eurostat (apro_cpshr)

Economic accounts for agriculture

Agriculture is an economic activity. The economic accounts for agriculture provide an overall picture of the performance of agricultural activity regardless of the ‘industry‘ [4] in which it originated.

Intermediate consumption

At the start of the production process, agricultural holdings generally have to make purchases of goods and services that are used as inputs; among other things, they buy items such as fuel, seeds, fertilisers, plant protection products, animal feedingstuffs or veterinary services. The expenditure on these non-labour inputs [5] is termed ‘intermediate consumption’. Across the EU, intermediate consumption of agriculture was valued at €238.3 billion in 2019. This was equivalent to 59.2 % of the gross value of agricultural output.

Figure 3 shows the ratio of intermediate consumption to output within the agricultural industry for selected NUTS level 2 regions. Excluding the atypical cases of the French outermost regions of Mayotte and Guyane, most of the regions with relatively low ratios of intermediate consumption to output in 2019 were concentrated in southern or eastern region of the EU. There were five NUTS level 2 regions where intermediate consumption represented between one quarter and one third of output: the capital region of Bucureşti-Ilfov in Romania, Algarve in Portugal, Andalucía and Canarias in Spain, and Toscana in Italy. This ratio was even lower in the aforementioned outermost French regions and in the northern Italian region of Provincia Autonoma di Trento (21.0 %). The relatively low level of intermediate consumption in these regions likely reflects the nature of their agricultural industries, with relatively small (often semi-subsistence) farm holdings predominating, whereby farms operate with little capital and are labour intensive.

In 2019, there were two capital regions – Stockholm in Sweden and Budapest in Hungary – where this ratio was greater than 100 %, in other words, where intermediate consumption was higher than output; note that agriculture accounts for a tiny proportion of overall economic activity in these regions – see Map 4. Such high ratios are not sustainable in the long-term. The ratio of intermediate consumption to output was also very high in two Slovak regions – Stredné Slovensko (95.8 %) and Východné Slovensko (94.8 %) – while Ipeiros in Greece (91.0 %; 2018 data) was the only other region to record a ratio of more than 90 %.

Figure 3: Ratio of intermediate consumption to output in agriculture, 2019
(%, selected NUTS 2 regions)
Source: Eurostat (agr_r_accts) and (aact_eaa01)

Gross value added from agriculture

The gross value added of the 10.3 million farms active in the EU together was €180.7 billion in 2019. To put this into context, this was 1.4 % of the value added from all activities. Value added is the difference between the value of output and intermediate consumption, adjusted for taxes less subsidies on products.

Map 4 shows that agriculture’s contribution to regional value added was generally quite low. However, there were a number of principally rural regions where its economic importance was higher; these were concentrated in southern and eastern regions of the EU. In some cases, these were characterised by fertile plains ideal for growing crops.

In 2019, there were 21 NUTS level 2 regions (note that the statistics presented in this section relate to NUTS level 1 for Belgium, while national data are shown for Croatia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovenia and Finland) where gross value added from agriculture accounted for at least 6.0 % of total economic performance (as shown by the darkest shade of blue). The highest shares were recorded in two Greek regions – Thessalia (12.4 %) and Peloponnisos (11.4 %) – and Severozapaden in Bulgaria (12.2 %); they were the only three regions to report that agriculture had a double-digit share of regional economic performance. The next highest shares were in the southern Portuguese region of Alentejo (9.1 %) and two (other) mainland regions of Greece: Dytiki Elláda (8.7 %) and Dytiki Makedonia (8.4 %). Note that Champagne-Ardenne in France – which is a major producer, among other products, of cereals, sugar beet, grapes and vegetables – was the only region from western or northern EU Member States to be present within this group; its agricultural industry contributed 7.5 % to regional gross value added.

The economic importance of agriculture was relatively low in most capital regions of the EU, where land is at a premium and service industries tend to predominate; this reflects, at least to some degree, the administrative boundaries that are used to demarcate regions. In the capital regions of Germany, Hungary, Austria and Sweden, gross value added from agriculture accounted for less than 0.1 % of economic activity in 2019; this was also the case for the German region of Bremen.

Map 4: Gross value added from agriculture, 2019
(% of the economy's gross value added, by NUTS 2 regions)
Source: Eurostat (agr_r_accts), (nama_10r_3gva) and (aact_eaa01)

Source data for figures and maps

Excel.jpg Agriculture at regional level

Data sources

Census and farm structure surveys

An agricultural census is carried out every 10 years by EU Member States. The most recent one for which results are available was conducted in 2010, while data from the 2020 census have been processed by Member States and are being prepared for their release by Eurostat (their release is foreseen by the end of 2022). Between census years, there are two farm structure surveys (FSS), the most recent of which was conducted in 2016; these are the main sources of structural agricultural statistics. In the census and FSS, Member States collect information from individual agricultural holdings covering a range of subjects: the use of agricultural land; livestock numbers; rural development (for example, activities other than agriculture); soil management practices and farm labour input.

The legal basis for farm structure surveys is provided by a Excel.jpg lengthy list of survey-specific implementing regulations and decisions that cover aspects such as survey organisation, characteristics, definitions and typologies. For example, European Commission Regulation (EU) No 715/2014 of 26 June 2014 amending Annex III to Regulation (EC) No 1166/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council on farm structure surveys and the survey on agricultural production methods, covered a list of characteristics to be collected in the 2016 FSS. Note that these legislative documents are no longer in force and that new legislation has been enacted for future farm structure surveys and the agricultural census of 2020 (see Regulation (EU) 2018/1091 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 July 2018 on integrated farm statistics). 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 were raised to two hectares for Slovakia, three hectares for Luxembourg, and five hectares for Czechia, Denmark and Germany.

Crop statistics

The legal basis for crop statistics is Regulation (EC) No 543/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 June 2009 concerning crop statistics, Regulation (EU) No 1350/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2013 amending certain legislative acts in the field of agricultural and fishery statistics and Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 1557/2015 amending Regulation (EC) No 543/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning crop statistics.

Crop statistics refer to the following types of data:

  • area under cultivation, harvested production, yield, humidity and main area for cereals and for other main field crops (mainly dried pulses, root crops, fodder and industrial crops);
  • harvested area, harvested production and main area for vegetables;
  • production area, harvested production and main area for permanent crops.

Economic accounts for agriculture

Economic accounts for agriculture (EAA) provide detailed information on income. The purpose of these statistics is to analyse the production process of the agricultural industry and the primary income generated by this production. Regional EAA are presented in current prices for the value of output (measured in both producer prices and basic prices), covering concepts such as intermediate consumption, subsidies and taxes, consumption of fixed capital, rent and interest, capital formation, and so on. Regional EAA are generally compiled by EU Member States for NUTS level 2 regions (there are some exceptions); these statistics are provided on the basis of a gentlemen’s agreement.

Indicator definitions

Farm manager

A farm manager is the natural person responsible for the normal daily financial and production routines of running an agricultural holding. Agricultural holdings can have only one manager.

Training levels

Agricultural training is thought to have, among other outcomes, an influence on the environmental impact of farming. The highest level of agricultural education obtained by a farm manager is classified according to one of three different categories:

  • only practical agricultural experience – if the manager's experience was acquired through practical work on an agricultural holding;
  • basic agricultural training – if the manager took any training courses completed at a general agricultural college and/or an institution specialising in certain subjects (including horticulture, viticulture, silviculture, pisciculture, veterinary science, agricultural technology and associated subjects); a completed agricultural apprenticeship is regarded as basic training;
  • full agricultural training – if the manager took (and completed) any training course
    • in agriculture, horticulture, viticulture, silviculture, pisciculture, veterinary science, agricultural technology or an associated subject,
    • continuously for the equivalent of at least two years full-time training after the end of compulsory education,
    • at an agricultural college, university or other institute of higher education.

Organic farming

Organic farming is a way of agricultural production which uses organic production methods and places the highest emphasis on environmental and wildlife protection, and – with regard to livestock production – on animal welfare considerations. Organic production involves holistic production management systems for crops and livestock, emphasising on-farm management practices over off-farm inputs. This is accomplished by avoiding, or largely reducing, the use of synthetic chemicals such as fertilisers, pesticides, (fungicides, herbicides, insecticides), additives and veterinary medicinal products, replacing them, wherever possible, with cultural, biological and mechanical methods.

Organic farming differs from other agricultural production methods in the application of regulated standards (production rules), compulsory control schemes and a specific labelling scheme. Data are collected on the crop area under organic production (fully converted area) and under conversion.

Permanent grassland

Permanent grassland is land used permanently (for several consecutive years, normally five years or more) to grow herbaceous fodder, forage or energy purpose crops, through cultivation (sown) or naturally (self-seeded), and which is not included in the crop rotation on an agricultural holding. Such grassland can be used for grazing, mown for silage and hay, or used for renewable energy production.

Arable land

Arable land is land worked (ploughed or tilled) regularly, generally under a system of crop rotation. It includes: cereals, dry pulses and protein crops, root crops, industrial crops (like oilseeds), plants harvested green, fresh vegetables (including melons), strawberries, flowers and ornamental plants, seeds and seedlings, other arable land crops and fallow land. It excludes land for permanent crops like fruits, berries and nuts, citrus fruits, olives and grapes, as well as land that has definitely been taken out of cultivation (even if less than five years have passed since it was last cropped).

Intermediate consumption

Intermediate consumption covers purchases made by farmers for raw and auxiliary materials that are used as inputs for crop and animal production; it also includes expenditure on veterinary services, repairs and maintenance, and other services. It does not include compensation of employees (payments of wages and salaries and social security contributions), nor financial cost (such as interest payments) or investment (although it does include costs for repair and maintenance).

Output of the agricultural industry

The output of agricultural activity includes output sold (including trade in agricultural goods and services between agricultural units), changes in stocks, output for own final use (own final consumption and own-account gross fixed capital formation), output produced for further processing by agricultural producers, as well as intra-unit consumption of livestock feed products. The output of the agricultural industry is composed of the sum of the output of agricultural products and of the goods and services produced in inseparable non-agricultural secondary activities; animal and crop output are the main product categories of agricultural output.

Gross value added

Gross value added is the difference in basic prices between the value of output and the value of intermediate consumption.

Context

Common agricultural policy

The common agricultural policy (CAP) is one of the EU’s oldest policies, supporting farmers and contributing to Europe’s food security. It aims to:

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

The CAP has three elements:

  • income support – direct payments ensure income stability, and remunerate farmers for environmentally friendly farming and delivering public goods not normally paid for by the market, 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;
  • rural development measures – national and regional programmes address the specific needs and challenges facing rural areas.

The most recent CAP programming period ran from 2014–2020; a transitional legal basis has been adopted for 2021 and 2022. During this transitional two-year period, most of the CAP rules and procedures applied during the 2014–2020 period are continuing, alongside some new elements which encompass stronger green ambitions.

At the end of 2021, a political agreement was reached on a new common agricultural policy for the period 2023–2027. This is designed to make the CAP more responsive to future challenges, while continuing to support EU farmers for a sustainable and competitive agricultural sector. The new policy is built around 10 key objectives that are focused on social, environmental and economic goals. The objectives are: to ensure a fair income for farmers; to increase competitiveness; to improve the position of farmers 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; fostering knowledge and innovation.

In total, €386 billion of funding has been budgeted for the CAP as part of the EU’s long-term budget, the multiannual financial framework (2021–2027). This comes from two different funds: €291 billion from the European Agricultural Guarantee Fund (EAGF) and €95 billion from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD), the latter including €8 billion allocated as part of the European Recovery Instrument (also known as Next Generation EU). The European Recovery Instrument is designed to support EU Member States to recover, repair and emerge stronger from the COVID-19 crisis. With respect to agriculture, funding through this instrument is intended to help farmers and rural areas to deliver the green transition as well as to support investments and reforms essential to Europe’s ambitious environmental targets.

Farm to fork strategy

The EU’s A Farm to Fork Strategy for a fair, healthy and environmentally-friendly food system (COM(2020) 381 final) lies at the heart of the European Green Deal which aims to make Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050.

The farm to fork strategy has a number of aims: to tackle climate change; to protect the environment and preserve biodiversity; to ensure a fair economic return in the supply chain; and, to increase organic farming. It includes a number of proposed targets to transform food systems in the EU by 2030, among which: a 50 % reduction in the use of chemicals and more hazardous pesticides; a 20 % reduction in the use of fertilisers; at least 25 % of the EU’s agricultural land to be used for organic farming.

The performance of the agricultural sector matters for several reasons:

  • farming is a cornerstone of the rural community, one on which a number of ‘upstream’ sectors (such as machinery, animal healthcare and input businesses) and ‘downstream’ sectors (such as food processing, packaging and transport businesses) depend;
  • farming is about providing a stable supply of safe, quality food;
  • farming has a key role to play in preserving landscapes and biodiversity;
  • farming has an important part to play in climate change action; and
  • to support this, there is a need to ensure a fair income for farmers.

Economic impacts on farmers therefore not only influence future farming business decisions but also wider ecological and environmental business decisions and behaviour.

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Notes

  1. Aside from different regional patterns of youth engagement, the adoption of organic farming practices may reflect, among others, some types of farming/agricultural areas being easier to convert and/or incentives being offered to some farmers to convert their land when it is around nature zones / protected areas.
  2. Note that, to some degree, these absolute values for the areas being farmed reflect the size of the underlying administrative areas of different EU regions.
  3. As noted above, these high absolute values may reflect, at least to some degree, the underlying administrative areas of different EU regions.
  4. Since, according to ESA 2010, an industry comprises a group of units which carry out as their principal activity the same or similar types of activity, the definition of the agricultural industry in the EAA depends on the identification of the characteristic activities and units in that industry. The resultant selection of characteristic agricultural activities and units may lead to some differences between the EAA agricultural industry accounts and the national accounts. [Regulation (EC) 138/2004 Annex I. paragraph 1.19].
  5. Excluding fixed assets whose consumption is recorded as fixed capital consumption. [Regulation (EC) 138/2004 Annex I. paragraph 2.089].


Regional agriculture statistics (t_reg_agr)
Farm structure (t_ef)
Economic accounts for agriculture (t_aact)
Agricultural production (t_apro)
Organic farming (t_org)


Regional agriculture statistics (reg_agr)
Economic accounts for agriculture by NUTS 2 regions (agr_r_accts)
Farm structure (ef)
Main farm indicators by NUTS 2 regions (ef_mainfarm)
Farm land use by NUTS 2 regions (ef_landuse)
Management and practices (ef_mp)
Economic accounts for agriculture (aact)
Economic accounts for agriculture (aact_eaa)
Agricultural production (apro)
Crops (apro_crop)
Organic farming (org)


Manuals and further methodological information

Metadata

Maps can be explored interactively using Eurostat’s statistical atlas (see user manual).

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