Number of Dutch farmers continues to decline

Number of Dutch farmers continues to decline

The number of farms and market gardens in the Netherlands reduced further, a new Statistics Netherlands report says.

The number of agricultural and horticultural businesses was reduced further to 68.5 thousand between 1 April 2011 and 1 April 2012. Nearly 5 businesses are discontinued every day. There is a trend towards large-scale farming and large farms account for an increasing share of overall output.

In the period 2000-2012, the number of large businesses increased by 13 percent to 8.7 thousand. The number of small and medium-sized businesses was reduced by 26 thousand (approximately 40 percent) to 40 thousand. The number of hobby farmers was reduced by 17 percent over the same period. Hobby farmers do not depend entirely on output for their incomes. They are mainly pensioners and male and female farmers who have jobs in addition to their farming activities. There are about 20 thousand hobby farmers in the Netherlands this year, i.e. nearly 30 percent of all agricultural and horticultural businesses. Hobby farmers account for only 1 percent of total economic value generated in the agricultural sector.

Half of businesses account for 95 percent of total output

There were 36 thousand large and medium-sized agricultural and horticultural businesses in 2012, just over half of all farming businesses. Altogether, they account for 95 percent of the economic value expressed in standard output. The bulk of agricultural output is realised by the 8.7 thousand large-scale farms. They represent 13 percent of all businesses in the sector, but produce nearly 60 percent of the total standard output.

Large agricultural and horticultural businesses have invested seriously in recent years to benefit as much as possible from large-scale farming. Large-scale farming has been the common business strategy for decades in this sector. This is one of the reasons that – despite the declining number of businesses – total output has remained at the same level. The standard output has been around 19 billion euro for years. The average farm had a standard output of 277 thousand euro in 2012, a 40 percent increase relative to 2000.

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