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Of 10.3 million farms in EU two thirds are less than 5 ha

Staff Writer |
A little over 171 million hectares of land in the European Union (EU) were used for agricultural production in 2016 – about 40% of the EU's total land area.

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This supported about 10.3 million farms and farm managers.

Although numerous, most of the EU's farms were small in nature, two-thirds being less than 5 hectares (ha) in size.

In contrast, the 3% of EU farms of 100 ha or more in size worked over half of the EU's utilised agricultural area.

Only 11% of farm managers in the EU were younger than 40 years old, in contrast to one third (32%) who were 65 years of age or older.

This information, published by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, comes from provisional results for the 2016 EU Farm Structure Survey and is the latest snapshot available.

This survey helps better understand the structure of agricultural holdings in the EU, important for the Common Agricultural Policy.

One third of the EU's farms were located in Romania in 2016 (33%), another third being found in Poland (14%), Italy (10%, 2013) and Spain (9%).

Although numerous, most of the EU's farms were small in nature; 65% of EU farms were less than 5 ha in size.

However, the 7% of farms that were of 50 ha or more in size worked a little over two-thirds (68%) of the EU's utilised agricultural area (UAA).

So although the mean size of an agricultural holding in the EU was 16.6 ha in 2016, the median was under 5 ha.

Among Member States, this distribution was most contrasting in Romania; nine in every ten farms (92% or 3.1 million farms) were smaller than 5 ha, but the 0.5% of farms of 50 ha or more in size farmed half (51%) of all the UAA in the country.

Larger farms (of 50 hectares or more) were much more common in Luxembourg (52% of farms), France (41%), the United Kingdom (39%) and Denmark (35%).

In most Member States, a majority of UAA was concentrated on the largest farms (50 ha or more in size).

Contrasts in the size of farms were also reflected in terms of their economic size.

Of the EU's 10.3 million farms, 4.0 million had a standard output below EUR 2 000 and were responsible for only 1% of total agricultural economic output.

The 296 000 farms (or 3% of all holdings) in the EU that each produced a standard output of EUR 250 000 or more were responsible for a majority (55%) of the EU's total agricultural economic output in 2016.

About one half (54%) of the standard output generated by agriculture in the EU was from farms in France (17%), Germany (13%), Italy (12% in 2013) and Spain (11%) in 2016.

Although Romania accounted for about one third of the EU's farms, they accounted for only 3.4 % of the EU's standard output.

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