The number of farms and market gardeners fell by just over 4 thousand between 1 April 2002 and 1 April 2003. On average eleven businesses a day in this sector ceased operations. This decrease is the continuation of a longer trend, although it has picked up speed in the last four years compared with the nineties.
Farms and market gardens, 1988-2003
Fewer pig farms
In the last fifteen years the number of farms has dropped by 44 thousand; this means that one in three farms have gone out of business.
The number of pig farms in particular dropped fairly sharply. In 1988 there were nearly 33 thousand pig farms in the Netherlands. Fifteen years later there are only just over 10 thousand left. The number of dairy farms decreased by 50 percent in the same period, to 25 thousand. The number of market gardeners with glasshouses is decreasing more slowly. There were just under 15 thousand such businesses in 1988; this dropped to nearly 9,5 thousand in 2003, a decrease of around 36 percent.
Pig farms, dairy farms and market gardeners with glasshouses
Fewer but bigger
The decrease in the number of farms has led to an increase in the average farm size. Between 2002 and 2003 this increased by around 0.7hectare to an average area of 22.5 hectares. Since 1988 farms have increased by 7 hectares on average.
This increase in scale is reflected in the number of animals per farm. The number of cows per farm rose from 20 in 1988 to 59 in 2003.
Increase in scale for some farm activities, 1988-2003
In most sectors, the increase in the average size of the businesses largely compensates the decrease in the numbers of businesses. Since 1988, for example, the total area of farmland has only decreased by 4 percent, while the number of farms has fallen by 34 percent.