Further fall in farm businesses

12/11/2009 15:00

There were 73 thousand agricultural and horticultural enterprises in the Netherlands on 1 April 2009. This is 3 percent less than twelve months previously. The number of farms is decreasing by 6 a day. In the space of thirty years the number of businesses in the sector has halved.

Area of farmland remains unchanged

The total area of farmland in the Netherlands has hardly changed from previous years and is nearly 2 million hectares. This means that by far most of the land of farmers who stop farming is taken over by farmers who expand. Farmland accounts for about 57 percent of the total land area of the Netherlands, according to the provisional results of the 2009 agricultural census.

Farms and area of farmland per farm

Farms and area of farmland per farm

Increase in scale continues in all sectors

The average farm is increasing in size. In 2009 an average farm had 26 hectares of farmland, 2.3 percent more than in the previous year. The average area of farmland rose by more than average on horticultural enterprises and intensive livestock farms (by over 3 percent). An average horticultural business covered  nearly 9 hectares and an intensive livestock farm 8.3 hectares. Arable farms expanded by 2.4 percent of their area, bringing the average arable farm to 42.4 hectares of farmland. The increase in scale for cattle and other livestock farms was smaller, at 1.3 percent. In this sector, the average area of farmland was just over 29 hectares.   

Grass accounts for half of farmland

In 2009, 1 million hectares of Dutch land was grassland. This accounts for 53 percent of all farmland in the Netherlands. Cereals and green maize accounted for 12 and 13 percent of total farmland respectively, and 8 percent was given over to potatoes. Glasshouse horticulture is nearly negligible, accounting for 0.5 percent of the total farmland area, but it does contribute substantially to Dutch agricultural production. This is because the yields per hectare in glasshouses are many times higher. In the last three decades, the percentage of grass land has decreased in favour of green maize, while the share of glasshouse horticulture has also increased.  

Farmland, 2009

Farmland, 2009

Marius Reitsma