The latest farm economics overview, covering the years 2014 and 2015, shows that incomes in the EU farming sector grew. This increase reverses the decline seen in 2013. Particularly strong growth was seen in the horticultural and wine sectors and for permanent crops (mainly fruit and berry trees, bushes, vines and olive trees). This trend was however not uniform, with the dairy sector showing declining incomes during these two years, as a result of over-production leading to lower prices. These are some of the findings of the EU Farm Economics Overview report (5.38MB - PDF) published by the European Commission on 19 October 2018.
The report highlights the wide variety of farm structures and systems within the EU and the considerable differences between sectors and Member States. Of particular interest are the sizable differences in average farm value between different EU countries. Whereas farms in Denmark and the Netherlands are valued particularly highly, with an average of over €2.4 million, Bulgarian and Romanian farms are in contrast valued at an average of below €100,000.
This is mainly due to a combination of the value of agricultural land in the different countries and the more capital-intensive nature of some Member States’ farming sectors. Despite this, there were some positive evolutions for Bulgarian farmers for example, where asset values doubled between 2007 and 2015.
The average number of workers employed per farm also varied widely, ranging from the equivalent of 12.4 full time employees in Slovakia to just 1.1 in Greece. However, most work on EU farms is still carried out by family relations, with around 77% of all labour being carried out by members of the family. This general trend of family based labour on farms is only broken by Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Estonia and Denmark.
Direct payments still represent a significant support to Europeans farmers, with them accounting on average for 30% of the farm value in the 28 EU countries in 2015. The proportion of income farmers receive from direct payments has changed little during 2014 and 2015 but differences continue to remain between sectors. Grazing livestock, mixed crops and field-crops received considerably higher levels of direct payments than, for example, the wine or horticultural sector.