PositionBrief Article

In its Agriculture and Fisheries Report, Statistics in Focus (Ref. 01/2000), entitled "Thirty years of agriculture in Europe, Physical and economic concentration of agricultural holdings", Eurostat indicates that a decrease in the number of holdings and an increase in their average size has been recorded in all new Member States after they joined the EU. Restructuring brought about by the Common Agricultural Policy led to a 52% decline in the number of farms in Denmark between 1975 and 1997, compared with a drop of 29% in the 9 Member States at that time. In Spain and Portugal, the number of farms fell by 33% and 34% respectively between 1987 and 1997, compared with 24% in the 12 Member States of the time.--Over the last thirty years, a decline in the number of holdings and an increase in their average size have been recorded in all Member States, depending on when they joined the EU (European Community, then the European Union). This physical concentration has been accompanied by economic concentration: in 1997, 10% of holdings accounted for two-thirds of standard gross margin in the 15 EU Member States. The standard gross margin is an estimate of the direct gross margin, i.e. the difference between the value of gross production (e.g. of the harvest and by-products) and direct costs (e.g. for crop products, the fertilisers, seeds, pesticides, storage, processing and marketing).--Growth in big farms at the expense of smallholdings.The fall in the number of farming businesses in the EU has mainly affected holdings of less than 20 hectares, particularly those of less than 5 hectares. Between 1967 and 1997, more than 80% of such holdings disappeared in Belgium, and more than 60% in Germany...

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