News19 December 2017Brussels, BelgiumAgriculture and Rural Development
EU agricultural outlook: European agricultural labour and total income expected to decrease by 2030
The European agricultural workforce is expected to decline by 28% between 2017 and 2030, at the same time pushing down EU agricultural income. However agricultural income per worker is expected to slightly increase by 1.1%, compared to the 2015-17 average. These are just some of the findings of the EU agricultural outlook 2017-30 report, published on 18 December 2017.
According to the report, the agricultural workforce will shrink by 3.2% on average per year, reaching 6.6 million by 2030. This expected decline will be driven by structural changes within the EU agri-food industry, but also because the opportunities for employment are expected to be better in other sectors. Rural areas are already facing difficulties in creating attractive jobs in general, pushing towards an ongoing migration towards urban centres.
Agricultural workforce across the EU (million Agricultural working units)
Structural changes in European agriculture are expected to continue with higher investments in technology. For example, investing in precision farming and digital agriculture are expected to significantly increase. However these types of investments are costly and will have a knock-on effect on the labour market in various ways, for example requiring workers to have more knowledge of technology or by ultimately reducing the need for agricultural labour.
Among the other potential influences on farm incomes in the period to 2030 highlighted in the report are increasing investments in key areas such as environmental measures or the use of more efficient irrigation systems. However a period of relatively low oil prices and the recovery of the economy are expected to boost agricultural investments, according to the report.
On top of investments, costs are also expected to rise by 2.5% per year between 2017 and 2030, adding up to 30% over the period. Costs such as energy and fertilisers will rise by 3% up to 2030, compared to the 2015-17 average, while feed costs, which are currently low due to low cereal prices, are also expected to increase in the following years. Agricultural services as well as depreciation should rise by 2030, with agriculture becoming more and more capital- and service- intensive.
Intermediate costs and depreciation (billion €)
The EU agricultural outlook report for 2017-30 offers further detailed information on this topic, as well as an outlook for EU agricultural markets such as arable crops, the meat and dairy sector, and the fruit and vegetables sector.