The number of farms is rapidly decreasing in the Netherlands. In 2003, on balance, 11 farms a day ceased operations. At the same time the remaining farms continue to grow in size. There are now over 10 thousand farms exceeding 50 hectares of arable land.
The increase in scale in agriculture is continuing. The average economic size of an agricultural holding in 2003 was about 85 Dutch size units (dsu) versus 50 dsu in 1990. The average size of the holding increased from over 16 hectares in 1990 to 22.5 hectares in 2003.
Number of large holdings
Strong increase in 100 hectare farmers
The number of holdings over 100 hectares has more than doubled since 1990, from nearly 700 to over 1.5 thousand in 2003. About half of these 100 hectare holdings are located in the provinces Groningen, Friesland and Drenthe. Over 52 percent of the 100 hectare holdings are cattle holdings. A third is an arable holding.
The number of holdings with an area between 50 and 100 hectares is also on the increase. In 1990 there were 5.3 thousand (4 percent of all farms), in 2003 there were over 8.3 thousand (10 percent).
Average holding size
Substantial increase in scale in horticulture
The increase in scale does not take place at the same rate in all sectors. The average area of a horticultural holding has increased by over 70 percent since 1990. The size of cattle holdings increased by about 35 percent. The average arable holding increased the least over the period 1990–2003, namely by an average of 14 percent.
Economic size down in arable holdings
In the period 2000–2003 the average economic size of arable holdings fell from 57 to 53 dsu. This is mainly due to a decrease in the surface on which potatoes and sugar beet are grown. These are crops with a relatively high production value. The reduced growing area for potatoes and sugar beet lowered the average economic size of arable holdings. The economic size per holding is on the increase in almost all other types of holdings in agriculture.
Source: StatLine (Dutch only)