Statistics: Large procucers make up growing share of agricultural output

Tractor at work in an Estonian field.
Tractor at work in an Estonian field. Source: ERR

According to preliminary data of the agricultural census conducted by Statistics Estonia, there are 11,400 agricultural holdings in Estonia, which is 3,800 fewer than ten years ago. 84 percent of the agricultural output is contributed by the 1,300 largest producers, who use more than two-thirds of the utilized agricultural area and account for more than a half of agricultural labor.

Statistics Estonia conducted the agricultural census between 1 September 1 and November 15 2020. The agricultural census is carried out every ten years in most countries in the world and in all countries of the EU. The census data are needed for preparing agricultural and environmental policies and for planning and decision-making in other sectors as well.

According to the census, there are 11,400 agricultural holdings in Estonia, which represent almost all of the land and livestock farmed here. The number of agricultural holdings is the highest in Pärnu county, followed by Võru, Tartu and Harju counties.

Eve Valdvee, the project manager of the agricultural census and leading analyst at Statistics Estonia, said that although the number of holdings has decreased over time, there has not been any significant fall in agricultural output, as it has gradually concentrated into large enterprises. 84 percent of the agricultural output in Estonia is produced by 1,300 largest agricultural producers. "The concentration of production is not unique to Estonia; the same is happening in agriculture across the EU," explained Valdvee.

"In Estonia, many smallholdings have disappeared, but a large number of them still remain. Over a half of Estonian agricultural holdings have an estimated annual output of fewer than €8,000," she added.

A third of all the agricultural holdings in Estonia operate as legal persons and the number of such holdings has more than doubled over ten years. A distinct feature of Estonian agriculture is the large share of leased land – the majority of the utilized agricultural area is leased or under other tenures, and less than a third of the utilized area is owned by holdings.

Similarly to other European countries, the managers of Estonian agricultural holdings tend to be older. Almost a half of them are aged 55 or over, and a quarter are aged 65 or over. The holdings are often small, which is why three-quarters of the managers work part-time in agriculture. The total number of persons employed in holdings is nearly 30,000. The agricultural work done in one year totals more than 16,700 annual work units, which also includes work done by non-regular employees and contractual indirect agricultural labor.


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Editor: Roberta Vaino

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