Stable share of female farmers

The share of women in the agricultural sector has fluctuated around one-third of the total number of persons employed in that sector since 2000. In 2017, these were 56 thousand women, with the majority working at family farms. This is according to definitive figures taken from the Agricultural Census conducted by Statistics Netherlands (CBS).

Persons regularly employed at a farm
 Men (% )Women (% )

As per the latest agricultural census, the number of persons regularly employed in the Dutch agricultural sector stood at 170 thousand in 2017. Of all women employed in agriculture, 8 in 10 were working at a family farm. In total, over 138 thousand persons were active at family farms last year; 46 thousand were female. Of all female workers at family farms, 55 percent were working 20 hours or more per week on average.

Women working at family farms
 Women (%)Men (%)
Horse and pony farms4753
Goat farms4060
Fruit cultivation3565
Poultry farms3466
Sheep farms3466
Dairy farms3367
Pig farms3268
Arable farming2971
Flower bulb cultivation2674

Most women at horse and pony farms

The share of women engaging in family agricultural labour is highest at horse and pony farms. In 2017, 47 percent of workers at these farms were female. The sectors goat farming and horticulture follow, 40 and 36 percent respectively of employed persons in these sectors were female. The lowest share can be found in the flower bulb sector, namely 26 percent.

Female holders at family farms
 Women (%)
Horse and pony farms20
Sheep farms11
Goat farms8
Arable farming8
Flower bulb cultivation5
Fruit cultivation5
Pig farms4
Poultry farms4
Dairy farms2

Slight decrease in number of female holders

In 2017, around 2,800 women were active as holders. The share of female holders fell from 9 to 6 percent in the period 2005-2017.

Most female holders in the agricultural sector can be found at horse and pony farms; they account for a share of 20 percent. The share of female holders is lowest at dairy farms (2 percent).

The average age of female holders is 55 years, equal to their male peers. Of this group, 71 percent were working 20 hours or more per week on average last year.

Women higher educated than men

Female holders are more frequently higher educated than male holders. At least 22 percent of the women had completed education at higher vocational or university level in 2016, versus at least 12 percent of the men. However, women’s highest attained level of education is less often in agriculture: 28 percent of female holders had completed agricultural studies against a 82 percent share among male holders.

Female holders more frequently employed outside their farm

Female farmers are slightly more likely to have a job outside the farm than male farmers. In 2016, 27 percent of female holders were employed outside the farm, compared to 23 percent of men. However, men are more often involved in agricultural diversification than women; 29 percent of male holders were carrying out diversification activities versus 24 percent of the women.

Aside from nature and landscape management, women mainly engage in agritourism or leisure activities and the sale of agricultural products. Out of all diversification activities, 17 percent are spent on agritourism or leisure activities and 16 percent on the sale of agricultural products. In addition to nature and landscape management, men are mainly active in energy production for private use and agricultural contract work for third parties (16 and 15 percent respectively of the diversification activities carried out).