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Employment in EU agriculture falls 25%

Between 2000 and 2009, employment in the agricultural sector in the EU27 fell by 25%, which was the equivalent of 3.7 million full-time jobs. It fell by 17% in the EU15 (those countries in membership before 2004) and by 31% in the 12 member states (NMS12) that joined the EU in 2004 and 2007.

In 2009, total employment in the EU27 agricultural sector was equivalent to 11.2 million full-time jobs, of which 5.4 million were in the EU15 and 5.8 million in the NMS12.

Agricultural employment is falling rapidly in the EU.

Between 2000 and 2009, real agricultural income per worker increased by 5% on average in the EU27 according to figures just released by Eurostat. But this average is rather misleading. The new member states gained immensely with incomes in the NMS12 rising by 61% whereas incomes in the EU15 actually fell by 10%.

The Common Agricultural Policy has always been something of a problem to UK governments as such a large percentage of total EU expenditure has gone into agriculture in the past. Since the UK has a small but highly efficient agricultural sector, this has not usually been to our benefit.

What is particularly interesting according to the latest figures, is that five EU countries account for nearly two-thirds of all agricultural employment in the EU27. Poland accounts for 20%, Romania 19%, Italy 10% and Spain and France both 9%.

However, the EU did resolve in 2008 to make changes to agricultural policy and the plan is to continue to reduce direct payments to farmers and to transfer the money saved into a fund for the development of rural regions.

The proportion of the EU budget devoted to the CAP has fallen from a peak of nearly 70% in the 1970s to 34% over the 2007-13 period. This is partly due to the expansion of the EU in other directions, cost savings from reforms plus the new focus on rural development which will be allocated 11% of the CAP budget over the 2007-13 period.

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Posted in Agriculture, Employment, European Union

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