Without even mentioning the hygiene and food safety rules for which the European Commission has taken various precautionary measures the last few weeks, the challenges ahead for farmers from the two new EU member states, Romania and Bulgaria, are huge. These relate first and foremost to labour. The lack of trained young workers is hindering the development of a category of proprietor farmers and makes it necessary to look to other countries. The challenges are also economic. The development deficit is manifest in transport infrastructure and disastrous storage facilities, limiting agricultural firms' capacity to benefit fully from the potential of their land.

Indeed, the two new member states have appreciable potential. Their production capacity is important for both cereals and meat. In spite of low yield and archaic structures, they already account for 6% of European cereal production, 11% of oilseeds, 3% of beef and veal, 1% of pigmeat and 3% of poultry.

Driven by strong growth in domestic demand, the Romanian and Bulgarian agriculture sectors are also expected to benefit from a geographical situation that is particularly interesting for developing export markets, particularly in the feeds sector. Not only do the two countries have direct access to the Black Sea, but with the Danube, they also have access to a navigable waterway that facilitates trade.


Two Romanian farms out of three have one or two cows, a few chickens and land which, while indeed fertile, totals barely 2 hectares in all. Approximately the same size as the United Kingdom, Romania (238,391 km2) has traditionally been an agricultural country. Farming and breeding occupy nearly 14 million hectares, or two thirds of its territory. That figure is unequalled anywhere in Europe, where farm acreage is closer to 40% of total surface area. With more than 22 million inhabitants, this country represents almost 5% of the European Union's population. In contrast, its contribution to European GDP is considerably lower: less than 2% of per capita income in the EU-27.

Agriculture, which negotiated with great difficulty the collapse of the Communist regime in the early 90s, still represents an important share of the Romanian economy. It accounts for more than 10% of GDP and gives work to nearly 40% of the workforce. The privatisation of lands resulted in a considerable breaking up of farms the country has some 4 million and an abrupt collapse in production. Since...

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