Belgian land is among the most expensive land in Europe, small farmers at risk
Monday, 08 September 2014
If inflation in the price of agricultural land is a concern all over Europe, it has become particularly strong in Belgium in recent decades, stated FIAN Belgium, the Belgian section of FIAN International (Food First Information and Action Network) association, on Monday. In a study entitled “Improving Access to Land in Belgium and in Europe,”the organization states that in the 10 years from 1995 to 2006, the average price of an acre of Belgian farmland has tripled, going from 9.727 euros to 27,190 euros.
“Belgium is the European country that experienced the largest increase over this period and is the country where land prices are highest, after the Netherlands,” reported the study. However, the report also states that official statistics only go up to 2007 and it is therefore difficult to objectify data for more recent years. According to FIAN, the reason for this inflation is in the increased competition in land purchasing. The increase in population and urbanization over time has caused farmland to be converted into industrial land or for transportation, housing and recreation services. The phenomenon of “artificial” soil has also affected every country in Europe. “Europe has lost 30 to 22 million acres of farmland between 1961 and 2003, an area the size of Italy (…) Between 1990 and 2000, nearly 275 acres of land were lost per day, which is equivalent to 315 soccer fields (0.8 ha). “The competition surrounding the purchase of land has consistently resulted in higher prices and become disproportionate to the agricultural value of the parcel of land in question. “Land, as a tool for work, can no longer be written off by the only agricultural activity,” laments FIAN, which notes that this has opened the door to the primacy of long-term speculation.The economic balance of farms is being jeopardized, and access is almost impossible for young farmers faced with the disappearance of small farms in favor of the diversified giant monoculture that has taken over the land.