Agricultural income up by 1 percent in 2021

A young agricultural worker processing lettuce crops.
© Hollandse Hoogte / Flip Franssen
In 2021, the income of the Dutch agricultural sector is 1 percent higher than in 2020. This year’s animal output is below the level of 2020, whereas crop output has increased. Agricultural output prices rose sharply on average, but so did costs. Agricultural income has therefore hardly recovered from coronavirus year 2020, when it dropped by nearly 5 percent. This is evident from an initial estimate conducted by Statistics Netherlands (CBS) and Wageningen Economic Research.

Output, income and labour in the agricultural sector
 Output volume (2015=100)Income (2015=100)Labour volume (2015=100)

Adjusted for inflation (2.6 percent in 2021) and taking into account the growth in labour volume (1.3 percent), the (real) annual agricultural income fell by 2.6 percent in 2021.

Higher output prices mean higher output value

In 2021, agricultural output (volume) is at roughly the same level as in the previous year. Whereas output increased in both arable farming and horticulture, livestock farming showed income decline. Higher average output prices caused the agricultural gross output value to increase by 6.5 percent.
Agricultural income rose by over 1 percent relative to 2020, a year in which the income fell by almost 5 percent. At the same time, the value of intermediate consumption rose more sharply (by 9 percent) than the gross output value, while subsidies and COVID-19-related support fell by 9 percent. This year the costs of fertilisers and compound feed exceeded 2020 levels. Prices of gas and electricity rose by almost 40 percent.

Less compensation from the government

In 2020, horticultural companies and potato growers were compensated by Dutch central government for turnover losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but these schemes were discontinued in the course of 2020. Many farmers were still able to claim support under other schemes, however. Altogether, the agricultural sector could claim roughly 140 million euros less COVID-19 support than in 2020.

Pork prices fall for second year in a row

In 2021, animal output (volume) decreased by 3 percent while the average output price went up by 3.5 percent. The gross output value stood at 10.6 billion euros, a level similar to 2020. Cattle and dairy prices rose in particular.
The pig sector faced sharp price drops once again (by 9 percent). This was due to lower demand for pork from China, where domestic pig production made a rapid recovery. Moreover, German pork exports were still banned by China due to various outbreaks of African swine fever. As a result, a larger part of Germany’s pig production ended up on the intra-EU market, causing prices to slump.

Declining livestock population

Livestock farmers supplied fewer animals to the slaughterhouses than in 2020. This was partly due to a reduction in the number of livestock. Milk production decreased by 2.5 percent year-on-year in 2021; the milk price did go up by 10 percent. The output value of milk is good for half of the total output value in the livestock sector.

Price and volume changes in agricultural output, 2021*
 Price change (%)Volume change (%)
Cereal crops (incl. seed)26.30.8
Sugar beet crops8.0-2.3
Feed crops-3.26.6
Vegetable crops4.90.7
Plant and flower crops10.74.4
Potato crops (incl. seed potatoes)17.9-2.0
Fruit crops-2.2-5.2
* Provisional figure.

Most crop products up in price

In the crop subsector, output (volume) rose by almost 2.5 percent in 2021. The average output prices of crop products increased by 8.5 percent. This drove up the gross output value to 15.5 billion euros.
Arable farmers harvested more cereal, onions and maize silage in 2021. Sugar beet yields were lower, partly due to a decline in area. The output volume of potatoes was lower as well.

Horticultural subsector retrieving its output value

Horticulture, which accounts for nearly half of the gross output value in the crop production subsector, recovered from the sharp drop in exports on account of the coronavirus crisis in 2020. The output value of flower and plant crops was 8 billion euros higher than in 2020. Output rose by almost 4.5 percent while prices rose by 11 percent.