Area under organic farming up by nearly 9 percent

In 2023, the total utilised agricultural area (UAA) under organic farming increased by 6.6 thousand hectares relative to the previous year. This is an area equivalent to over 9 thousand football fields. The total organic area now occupies 80.9 thousand ha, or 4.5 percent of the UAA. This is evident from figures released by Statistics Netherlands (CBS).

According to a target set in a national action plan to increase organic output and food consumption as implemented by the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food quality, 15 percent of the total UAA should be organic by 2030. In order to reach that target, the total organic area should see an average annual increase of 26 thousand ha in the years ahead.

Sharpest increase in organic area on existing organic farms

In 2023, the UAA under organic farming on existing organic farms increased by 6.5 thousand ha, while 5.4 thousand ha of organic farmland were added by newly certified organic farms.

On the other hand, there was a decline of more than 5.3 thousand ha due to farms terminating their activities; selling plots of land due to which certification was terminated, or giving the plots a new and non-agricultural designation.

Developments in UAA under organic farming
JaarIncrease (1,000 ha)New (1,000 ha)Decrease (1,000 ha)

Mostly certified farms in conversion

Owners of agricultural holdings wishing to adopt organic farming methods and seeking certification do so by means of a transition period. In 2023, an area of 6.0 thousand ha was certified farmland in the process of conversion, including 2.2 thousand ha located on existing organic farms and 0.5 thousand ha on new organic farms. The remainder, 3.3 thousand ha, was located at holdings that were not yet certified organic. These were farms with a certain area in conversion only, but without any existing area under organic farming.

Plot conversion may also be done without certification. In 2023, a total area of 2.3 thousand ha in conversion was not certified; this included 1.1 thousand ha on existing organic farms. New organic farms had 0.3 thousand ha in conversion without certification; on not yet organically certified farms, this was 0.9 thousand ha.

UAA under organic farming
ID perceelFully certified organic (x 1,000 ha)In-conversion, certified (x 1,000 ha)In conversion, non-certified (x 1,000 ha)

Roughly half of the organic area at dairy holdings

Of the total area of organically certified farmland, a share of 47.5 percent (38.5 thousand ha) was located on organic dairy farms in 2023. Year on year, the organic area on those farms was up by 7.1 percent. The certified area in conversion was 2.7 thousand ha. Another 1.1 thousand ha was non-certified land in conversion.

After grazing livestock, the largest sector is arable farming, with 16.3 percent (13.2 thousand ha) certified organic. The certified area in conversion was 0.9 thousand ha, while 0.1 thousand ha was non-certified and in conversion.

Growing number of organic farms

Compared to the previous year, the number of organically certified farms rose by 1.7 percent to approximately 1.9 thousand. Relative to 2015, the number was up by 5 percent, while at the same time the total organically certified area was up by 72 percent. In addition to the organically certified farms, almost 200 farms did not have any organic acreage yet, but were in conversion in 2023.

Altogether 531 dairy holdings were organically certified in 2023. These included 332 fully organic farms. The other 199 farms had a particular in-conversion area in addition to their organic area, i.e., were expanding organic farming. Finally, 27 dairy holdings only had farmland in conversion to organic.

Organic agricultural holdings
jaarFully organically certifiedOrganically certified in conversionIn conversion