Organic farming grows in poultry and dairy sectors

The organic share in the total agricultural surface has grown by nearly 10 percent over the past five years, now occupying approximately 52 thousand hectares. Between 2011 and 2016, the number of organic farms went up by nearly 2 percent, reaching a total of 14 hundred. In livestock farming, the organic poultry sector (+65 percent) and dairy cattle sector (+54 percent) showed the highest growth. Statistics Netherlands reports this today on the basis of the latest figures over 2016.

Livestock on organic farms
Livestock on organic farms
 ChickensMature dairy cattleGoatsBovines (total)PigsSheep
2011100100100100100100
201212110510410410599
201312211212210911194
201413111411810812072
201515012212911912065
2016*16515414314112765

Between 2011 and 2016, the number of organically reared chickens rose by nearly two-thirds to more than 3 million. This represents 3 percent of the total Dutch chicken population. The number of organic poultry farms grew by 24 percent over the same period. An increase was furthermore seen in organic goat (+43 percent) and pig breeding (+27 percent). Over the same period, however, the organic sheep flock declined (-35 percent).

Organic arable, horticultural and livestock farms
Organic arable, horticultural and livestock farms
 Arable farmingCattleHorticultureChickensSheepGoatsPigs
201151750745818018011399
2012559529467206177117116
2013573531503202181115120
2014554513508204170113119
2015521509458215162107118
2016*53954948122315599122

More organic cattle breeding

Organic cattle farming also grew substantially between 2011 and 2016. In five years’ time, the size of the mature dairy cattle herd increased by over 50 percent. The total organic cattle herd increased to slightly under 70 thousand bovines, equivalent to 2 percent of the total cattle population in the Netherlands. The growth in organic cattle farming is further shown in the expanding acreage of organic pasture (by over 10 percent). The number of bovine animals in the transition phase towards organic farming has increased as well. Over two years’ time between 2014 and 2016, the bovine herd increased tenfold.

Agricultural area used for organic arable farming and horticulture
Agricultural area used for organic arable farming and horticulture
 TotalPasture and green fodderArable farmingHorticulture
201147.4235.1710.261.99
201248.4336.2610.112.06
201349.3936.3610.842.19
201449.2636.6210.262.38
201550.3837.4510.312.61
2016*52.0438.8210.422.8

Larger area for organic agriculture

In 2016, there were 539 organically managed arable farms in the Netherlands, over 4 percent up from five years previously. These farms together occupied an area of over 10 thousand hectares, slightly larger (+2 percent) than in 2011. The number of organic horticultural farms went up as well. Organic open-field horticulture in particular recorded growth; the number of farms rose by 7 percent while the area used for open-field horticultural cultivation expanded by 43 percent. The number of organic greenhouse farmers, on the other hand, declined (3 percent) in spite of a growing area for greenhouse cultivation, also by around 3 percent.