More than 171 million hectares of land in the European Union (EU) and 34 900 hectares in Cyprus were used for agricultural production in 2016 – about 40% of the EU`s total land area (0.3% for Cyprus respectively), supporting about 10.3 million farms and farm managers, according to data released by Eurostat on Thursday,
Eurostat says that 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.
There were 10.3 million people working as farmers in the EU in 2016, with an average age at the older end of the age spectrum. One third (32%) of farm managers in the EU were 65 years of age or more. Only 11% of farm managers in the EU were young farmers under the age of 40 years. Young farmers were particularly few and far between in Cyprus (3.3% of all farm managers), Portugal (4.2%) and the United Kingdom (5.3%). They were more common in Austria (22.2%), Poland (20.3%) and Slovakia (19.0%). Nevertheless, the youngest farm managers tended to have bigger farms in terms of area, livestock and standard output than the oldest ones (over 65 years of age). The farming profession is dominated by men, with only about three in ten (29%) EU farm managers being women. The proportion of young farm managers who were women was lower still (23%).
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%).
A 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).
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.
France used 27.8 million hectares for agricultural purposes in 2016, the largest of any Member State (16% of EU total). A further 23.2 million hectares were farmed in Spain (14%), 16.7 million hectares in the United Kingdom (10%), 15.2 million hectares in Germany (9%) and 14.4 million hectares in Poland (8%). Agricultural landscapes dominated the countryside in some Member States; upwards of two-thirds of the land area of the United Kingdom (69%) and Ireland (72%) was used as agricultural land and the share was also particularly high in Denmark (62%). This was in stark contrast to Finland (8%) and Sweden (7%) where forest dominated the landscape, as well as Cyprus (12%).