Share article:
Share article:

Belgium has 70% fewer farms now than in 1980

© jplanio PxHere

In the years since 1980, the number of individual farms in Belgium has gone down by 70%, according to figures from the national statistics office Statbel.

During the same period, the average area covered by each farming business tripled, meaning that there are fewer farms now, but the ones that remain are very much bigger.

In Flanders, the average farm size increased from 8.4 hectares in 1980 to 26.7 ha in 2019.

In Wallonia, the average farm went from 20.7 ha to 57.6 ha in the same period.

Furthermore, the number of animals per farm is also increasing and this reflects the increasing concentration of the means of production,” Statbel states.

At the same time as the number of separate farming operations – whether those concerning the typical farming family or those run by industrial companies – fell by 70%, employment in the sector fell almost as much, by 68%. So while today’s farms are on average larger, they employ far fewer people than before.

Part of the reason is the increasing size of each farm, but Statbel also points to increased mechanisation, as well as computerisation. And while total employment has gone down drastically, the number of workers on each farm went up from 1.63 on average in 1980 to 1.92 in 2016.

But the familial character is almost completely lost. Whereas in 1980 only 3.9% of farm workers were not family members, by 2016 the number had gone up to 27.9% – a sevenfold rise.

As far as farm products are concerned, the agricultural area given over to potato growing increased by 50%, while grain and pasture remained almost unchanged.

Pig farming rose very slightly while cattle (beef and dairy) and sheep and goats remained unchanged. The number of horses went up fourfold, albeit from a very low 0.1% to 0.4% of all farm animals.

Alan Hope
The Brussels Times

Latest news

Masks reintroduced indoors, teleworking encouraged
Masks will again be mandatory inside shops and other indoor public spaces, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo announced in a press conference on ...
Belgium intends to activate the pandemic law, says Health Minister
"We intend to activate the pandemic law," Public Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke confirmed on Tuesday in the House committee, ahead of Tuesday's ...
Offers for fake Covid Safe Tickets circulating on social media
As the Covid Safe Ticket (CST) becomes mandatory in many places across Belgium, offers for forgeries are increasingly circulating on social media. ...
EU auditors: More worried about the future budget than about pervasive errors in the 2020 budget
The European Court of Auditors (ECA) have signed off the 2020 EU accounts as giving a true and fair view of the union’s financial position but like ...
Belgium aims to tackle sexual violence with video interrogations
The federal government is looking to tackle sexual violence and increase convictions connected to this crime by relying more heavily on video ...
Duvel celebrates 150th anniversary with special brew in commemorative bottle
Belgium’s Duvel Moortgat Brewery is celebrating its 150th anniversary with the release of a special brew in a commemorative bottle shaped like its ...
Pollution scandal: 3M to show emissions don’t pose risk or halt production
Flanders has ordered American company 3M, involved in a pollution scandal in Antwerp, to prove that emissions linked to its production activities do ...
The Netherlands fears a greater rise in sea levels than forecast
Sea levels could rise by up to two metres by 2100 on the Dutch coastline – far more than previously forecast – according to an announcement from the ...
The Smurfs return to Belgian TV with the first new show since 1989
A new Smurfs show is bringing the characters of Belgium's second-most-famous comic franchise back to the small screen with their first new series, 30 ...
On this day in Brussels: An entrepreneurial journey begins
The Rue Dansaert was just beginning to become trendy when Alain Coumont opened his first bakery here on 26 October 1990. He started by baking big ...
Almost half of Belgian subsidies from EU left unused
Belgium left almost half (49%) of its subsidies allocated by the European Union between 2013 and 2020 unused, the equivalent of around €1.375 ...
Visitors to embark on Orient Express adventure at Brussels exhibition
An exhibition dedicated to the Orient Express – the train that was the scene for many novels, including Agatha Christie's – allows visitors to ...