Agricultural accounts and prices
From Statistics Explained
- Data from September 2013. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database.
This article is part of a set of statistical articles based on the Eurostat publication Agriculture, forestry and fishery statistics pocketbook. It gives an overview of indicators on agricultural output, agricultural income and of agricultural prices in the European Union (EU). The data are extracted from Eurostat collections of agricultural statistics: economic accounts for agriculture (EAA), agricultural price indices (API) and absolute agricultural prices.
Main statistical findings
The economic accounts for agriculture show that the total output of the agricultural industry (comprising the output values of crops and animals, agricultural services and the goods and services produced from inseparable non-agricultural secondary activities) in the EU-28 in 2012 was an estimated EUR 408.4 billion at basic prices. The equivalent of 60.7 % of the value of agricultural output generated was spent on intermediate consumption (input goods and services). The residual gross value added at basic prices was the equivalent of 39.3 % of the value of total output in 2012 or EUR 160.6 billion.
The output value of the EU-28’s agricultural industry at producer prices (therefore excluding subsidies, less taxes on products) was an estimated EUR 404.4 billion in 2012. France was the largest agricultural producer in the EU-28 (EUR 75.1 billion or 18.6 % of the EU-28 total), followed by Germany (13.8 %), Italy (11.9 %) and Spain (10.5 %); relative to its size, the Netherlands accounted for quite a high share of the EU-28’s agricultural output (6.5 %).
During the period 2005–12, the value of agricultural output rose in all of the EU Member States other than Greece (where output fluctuated but was largely unchanged). The highest increases in output value (in absolute terms) were recorded for the two largest producers, namely France and Germany, output rising by EUR 18.9 billion and EUR 16.8 billion respectively. There were also relatively large increases in agricultural output in the United Kingdom, Poland, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands.
The biggest relative gains during the period 2005–12 in agricultural output were recorded for Germany, Poland and the United Kingdom: the highest increase being in Germany (its share in the EU-28 total rising by 1.2 percentage points). At the other end of the range, the relative weight of Greece, Spain and Italy fell; the most pronounced reduction was recorded for Italy (its share of the EU-28 total falling by 1.6 percentage points).
Table 2 shows that the main components of the EU-28’s agricultural industry in 2012 were crop output (51.8 % of the total) and animal output (40.8 %); agricultural services (4.7 %) and inseparable secondary activities — generally the processing of agricultural products — provided the residual shares (4.7 % and 2.8 %). The agricultural products accounting for the highest share of output value in the EU-28’s agricultural industry in 2012 were cereals (14.4 %) and milk (12.7 %), while pig and cattle output also accounted for relatively large shares (9.3 % and 8.2 %). More information on the production of agricultural products is provided in separate articles on crops and livestock and meat.
Table 2 also shows the annual change in EU-28 agricultural output in volume terms between 2011 and 2012 (-3.1 %). The volume of crop output fell by 5.3 %, with the biggest rates of decline being recorded for wine (-15.5 %) and potatoes (-14.0 %). Output volumes fell for each of the remaining crops detailed in the table — with the exception of olive oil (+5.9 %) — including the three crop products with the highest value of output, namely, cereals (-7.0 %), fresh vegetables (-2.8 %) and fruits (-7.2 %).
The volume of animal output fell by 0.5 % in the EU-28 between 2011 and 2012. There was a reduction in the volume of sheep and goat production (-2.2 %), cattle production (-2.1 %) and pig production (-1.8 %), although poultry production rose by 2.6 %. There was little change in the volume of milk production in the EU-28 in 2012 (+0.3 %), while there was a reduction of 1.6 % in the volume of egg production.
The sharpest increases in the real value of crop products between 2011 and 2012 were recorded for olive oil (7.3 %), fresh vegetables (3.6 %) and cereals (2.9 %). The highest increases among animal products were recorded for eggs (28.3 %), pig (7.7 %) and cattle production (6.2 %). The marked increase in the real value of eggs between 2011 and 2012 resulted from a spike in prices during the spring of 2012 when eggs were in short supply.
Intermediate consumption covers purchases made by farmers for raw and auxiliary materials that are used as inputs for crop an animal production; it also includes expenditure on veterinary services, repairs and maintenance, and other services. Intermediate consumption within the EU-28’s agricultural industry in 2012 was valued at EUR 247.8 billion at basic prices.
Feedingstuffs for animals accounted for by far the highest share (39.5 %) of total intermediate inputs within the EU-28’s agricultural activity in 2012, valued at more than three times the share of energy and lubricants (12.2 %) — the latter are used for both animal and crop production. Fertilisers and soil improvers (7.9 %) accounted for the highest share of intermediate inputs among those inputs used exclusively for crop production (see Figure 2).
The relative share of intermediate consumption in production value has generally risen during recent years (see Table 3). Three main intermediate inputs are used for the production of crops — seeds and plantings, fertilisers, and plant protection products — together they accounted for 19.7 % of the production value of crops in the EU-28 in 2012 (1.6 percentage points higher than in 2005). The two main intermediate inputs for animal production — feedstuffs and veterinary expenses — together accounted for 62.8 % of the EU-28’s production value for animals in 2012. This was fully 11.8 percentage points higher than in 2005, reflecting the upward development of feed prices (which peaked in 2011).
Gross value added and subsidies
Gross value added at producer prices of the EU-28’s agricultural industry in 2012 was an estimated EUR 156.5 billion, while overall subsidies amounted to EUR 55.9 billion (see Table 4). The highest subsidies were generally granted to those EU Member States with the highest levels of output (France, Germany, Spain and Italy). The value of subsidies received by farmers in Finland, Greece, Ireland and the Czech Republic accounted for a higher share of EU-28 subsidies than their relative weight in the output value of the EU-28’s agricultural industry.
The type of subsidies provided to the EU-28’s agricultural industry has changed over time as a result of successive reforms of the CAP, ‘decoupling‘ subsidies from particular crops and moving towards a system of single farm payments. Subsidies on products in the EU-28 were valued at EUR 20.0 billion in 2005, which had fallen to EUR 4.2 billion by 2012. By contrast, other subsidies on production increased from EUR 29.7 billion in 2005 to EUR 51.7 billion by 2012.
Agricultural labour input
The vast majority of the EU’s farms are relatively small, family-run holdings. Often, these holdings draw on family members to provide labour (in addition, to the farm holder). Agriculture is also characterised by seasonal labour peaks (for example, those linked to harvesting), with high numbers of workers hired for relatively short periods of time. Otherwise, some farmers are occupied on a part-time basis (and they may have alternative, sometimes important sources of income) — so while there are a large number of people providing labour within agriculture, many of these will have their main employment elsewhere. For this reason, estimates are made of the volume of labour input provided in terms of full-time labour equivalents (measured in annual work units).
EU-28 agricultural labour input was estimated at 10.3 million annual work units (the equivalent of 10.3 million people working full-time) in 2012. Among the EU Member States, the highest levels of agricultural labour input were recorded for Poland (the equivalent of 2.1 million people working full-time), Romania (1.6 million AWUs) and Italy (1.2 million AWUs).
Between 2005 and 2012 there was a reduction of almost one fifth (19.7 %) in agricultural labour input in the EU-28; the steepest annual declines were posted in 2007 and 2010. The overall contraction of 2.5 million annual work units was almost exclusively due to a reduction in non-salaried labour input (2.4 million annual work units or 92.6 % of the total). Although the volume of agricultural labour input from salaried persons in the EU-28 fell in successive years from 2007 to 2010, there was a slight increase in the number of annual work units for salaried persons in both 2011 and 2012.
Malta and Ireland were the only EU Member States to record an expansion in their respective agricultural labour forces between 2005 and 2012 (labour input rose overall by 19.5 % and 11.4 % respectively). Among the five Member States that recorded reductions in agricultural labour input of less than 10 % during the period 2005–12 were two of the three countries with the highest levels of agricultural labour input — Italy and Poland; they were joined by the United Kingdom, Luxembourg and Germany. At the other end of the scale, there were eight Member States that recorded contractions in agricultural labour input between 2005 and 2012 in excess of the EU-28 average (-19.7 %). Among these, Greece, Estonia, Bulgaria and Romania reported declines of 35–38 %, while the reductions were even more pronounced in Latvia (-42.0 %) and Slovakia (-45.2 %).
Income is a key measure for determining the viability of the agricultural sector. The nominal factor income of the agricultural industry (the income from selling the services of factors of production — land, labour and capital) in the EU-28 was valued at EUR 145.7 billion in basic price terms in 2012. Within agricultural accounts, income has traditionally been measured as an index, computed on the basis of the real factor income per annual work unit.
From the base year of 2005 (= 100), the EU-28 index of agricultural income rose for two consecutive years, before falling back in 2008 and 2009 (at the height of the financial and economic crisis) to almost the same level as in 2005. Thereafter, the index of agricultural income rebounded, with relatively rapid growth in 2010 and 2011. Agricultural income in the EU-28 remained stable in 2012 (rising by just 0.1 % compared with the year before).
The overall pattern for the development of agricultural income in the EU-28 during the period 2005–12 can be linked to the development of the two underlying indicators that are used in the construction of the index. EU-28 real factor income for the agricultural industry fluctuated considerably but in broad terms rose relatively slowly. This higher factor income was nominally shared amongst a smaller workforce, resulting in stronger rises in average income per full-time labour equivalent.
The variations in real factor income can be linked to rising commodity prices (in 2007 and again in 2010 and 2011) and the downturn in agricultural activity resulting from the financial and economic crisis (in 2008 and 2009). The biggest changes in EU-28 real factor income were recorded in 2009 and 2010, -12.6 % followed by +9.3 % and these were apparent in the overall development of the index for agricultural income (see Figure 4). Otherwise, the relatively large declines in agricultural labour input recorded in 2007 and 2010 were also apparent as agricultural income increased during both of these years.
A group of five EU Member States reported that their index of agricultural income in 2012 was at a lower level than in 2005 (see Table 6). This group comprised Cyprus (where the biggest contraction in income was recorded, -30.7 %), Luxembourg, Malta, Ireland and Italy (where the smallest reduction was registered, at -7.4 %). In the case of Malta and Ireland the reduction in agricultural income per annual work unit could be largely attributed to an expansion in the number of annual work units, whereas in the other three Member States it could be largely attributed to a reduction in real factor income.
The index of agricultural income rose in the remaining EU Member States between 2005 and 2012. Increases were relatively small — of the magnitude 1.0–3.4 % — in Croatia, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain and Greece. By contrast, agricultural income per annual work unit rose in Estonia by 119.4 % between 2005 and 2012, and almost doubled in Slovakia (+95.9 %) and Lithuania (+81.6 %), while increases of 60–70 % were recorded in Hungary, Latvia and the Czech Republic. The rapid rise in the index for three of these five countries resulted largely from an increase in real factor incomes over the period under consideration (a pattern that was apparent for the majority of the Member States that joined the EU since 2004 — for example, Lithuania (48.0 %), Estonia (42.7 %) and Hungary (38.3 %)). However, the relatively rapid growth of agricultural income in Slovakia and Latvia during the period 2005–12 was largely the result of nominally sharing income amongst a much smaller labour force (volumes of labour input declining 45.2 % and 42.0 % respectively).
The latest developments from 2011–12 (see Figure 5) show that the index of agricultural income rose by more than a quarter (27.8 %) in Belgium, while double-digit gains were also recorded in the three Baltic Member States, the Netherlands and Germany. The majority of the EU Member States saw their agricultural income vary by no more than +/-10 % from 2011–12, although there were larger reductions in Romania (-27.1 %), Croatia, Slovenia and Poland (-10 % to -14 %).
EU-27 output prices for agricultural goods rose by 35.9 % in nominal terms from 2005–12. Taking into account price inflation (based on the harmonised index of consumer prices — the HICP), the real increase in (deflated) output prices for agricultural goods was 14.1 %, equivalent to an average rate of 1.9 % per annum.
Figure 6 shows that (deflated) output prices for agricultural goods in the EU-27 rose during the period 2005–08 by a total of 12.0 %. This was followed by a sharp reduction in prices in 2009 (-12.3 %), as the output price index fell below its base level for 2005. Thereafter, output prices for agricultural goods in the EU-27 rose by just over 6 % in real terms in both 2010 and 2011, before price increases slowed somewhat in 2012, rising by 3.1 %. Figure 6 also shows that prices tended to rise at a faster pace for crop output (+18.5 % over the period 2005–12, equivalent to an average of 2.5 % per annum) than for animal output (an overall increase of 9.7 %, equivalent to an average of 1.3 % per annum).
Figures 7 and 8 present a more detailed picture of deflated output price developments over the period 2005–11 for a selection of crop and animal products. Among the selected crops shown in Figure 7, the greatest variations in EU-27 prices and the overall highest price increases between 2005 and 2012 were recorded for cereals and potatoes. By contrast, the price of olive oil fell for six consecutive years from its relative high in 2006, while output prices for vegetables, fruits and wine remained relatively stable.
In comparison to some crops, EU-27 output price fluctuations were relatively small for animal outputs, although the price of milk fell by 19.9 % from 2008–09 and the price of eggs rose by 35.8 % from 2011–12; the spike in the price of eggs could be linked to a shortage of supply. A comparison of EU-27 deflated output prices between 2005 and 2012 reveals overall price increases of 1–6 % for milk, pigs, and sheep and goats, while prices rose faster for cattle (15.0 %) and poultry (18.4 %).
Table 7 presents information on deflated price indices for crop and animal outputs for the period 2008–12 — thereby including the relative peak in agricultural output prices for 2008, the rapid fall in prices for 2009, and the subsequent rebound (albeit at a more modest pace) during the period 2010–12. Spain (-12.1 %) and Portugal (-7.8 %) were the only EU Member States to report deflated output prices for crops that were lower in 2012 than they had been in 2005; there was no change in the price of crops in Greece. Three other southern Member States — Italy, Cyprus and Malta — as well as Belgium and the Netherlands, reported deflated output prices for crops increasing at a relatively slow pace (a total increase of less than 10 % during the period 2005–12). By contrast, output prices for crops rose by 65.3 % in Hungary and by 54.6 % in the United Kingdom between 2005 and 2012, while the remaining EU Member States saw crop output prices rise within the range of 18–36 %.
Deflated prices for animal output rose at a relatively fast pace in the United Kingdom (32.4 %), Ireland (20.7 %), Poland (15.3 %), Finland (15.1 %) and Denmark (13.0 %) during the period from 2005–12. The vast majority of the EU Member States registered prices for animal output fluctuating within the range of +/-10 %. Among the 10 Member States where prices for animal output fell, the most significant reductions were recorded in Slovakia (-20.2 %), while Latvia, Estonia, Croatia and the Czech Republic recorded prices falling by 11–14 %.
Figure 9 provides a comparison between deflated price indices for intermediate consumption and the output of agricultural goods. Deflated prices for intermediate consumption in the EU-27’s agricultural industry rose by 16.4 % between 2005 and 2012, while the output price index for agricultural goods rose by 14.1 % (over the same period). However, there does not appear to be any robust link between the development of these two indices across the EU Member States, despite some countries recording relatively high price increases for both intermediate consumption and the output of agricultural goods (the United Kingdom, Romania and Ireland) and others reporting relatively low price increases or falling prices for both intermediate consumption and the output of agricultural goods (Croatia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Estonia and Cyprus).
Among the crop products shown in Table 8 there was a much wider variation in the selling prices of main crop potatoes across the EU Member States than there was for any of the other crops — soft wheat, rape or sunflower — the price of many cereals and oilseeds is linked to commodity markets and traded futures.
There was a wider variation in selling prices for animal products across the EU Member States (see Table 9); this was particularly true for chickens (1st choice) and fresh eggs. The ratio between the highest and lowest selling prices was above 6:1 for chickens (Luxembourg with the highest selling price and Portugal the lowest) and 5:1 for fresh eggs (Greece with the highest selling price and the United Kingdom the lowest).
Data sources and availability
Economic accounts for agriculture (EAA) are a satellite account of the European system of accounts (ESA 1995). They cover the agricultural products and services produced over the accounting period sold by agricultural units, held in stocks on farms, or used for further processing by agricultural producers. The concepts of the EAA are adapted to the particular nature of the agricultural industry: for example, the EAA includes not only the production of grapes and olives but also the production of wine and olive oil by agricultural producers. It includes information on intra-unit consumption of crop products used in animal feed, as well as output accounted for by own-account production of fixed capital goods and own final consumption of agricultural units.
The EEA comprises a production account, a generation of income account, an entrepreneurial income account and some elements of a capital account. For the production items, EU Member States transmit to Eurostat values at basic prices, as well as their components (values at producer prices, subsidies on products, and taxes on products).
The output of agricultural activity includes output sold (including trade in agricultural goods and services between agricultural units), changes in stocks, output for own final use (own final consumption and own-account gross fixed capital formation), output produced for further processing by agricultural producers, as well as intra-unit consumption of livestock feed products. The output of the agricultural sector is made up of the sum of the output of agricultural products and of the goods and services produced in inseparable non-agricultural secondary activities; animal and crop output are the main product categories of agricultural output.
Eurostat computes three indicators in relation to agricultural income:
- an index of real income of factors in agricultural activity per annual work unit (indicator A);
- an index of real net agricultural entrepreneurial income, per unpaid annual work unit (indicator B);
- and the net entrepreneurial income of agriculture (indicator C).
The information presented on agricultural income relates to indicator A (the real income of factors in agriculture per annual work unit). This indicator corresponds to the real (deflated) net value added at factor cost of agriculture per annual work unit. Net value added at factor cost is calculated by subtracting from the value of agricultural output at basic prices the value of intermediate consumption, the consumption of fixed capital, and adding the value of (other) subsidies less taxes on production.
Agricultural price statistics provide information on the development of producer (output) prices for agricultural products and purchaser prices for the means of agricultural production (the intermediate consumption of goods and services within the production process). Data on prices are available for single commodities and for larger aggregates in the form of absolute prices and price indices.
The index of producer prices for agricultural products is based on sales of agricultural products, while the input index (for intermediate goods and services) is based on purchases of the means of agricultural production. Prices should be recorded at points which are as close as possible to those of the transactions which the farmer actually undertakes. This means that product prices should be recorded at the first marketing stage so as to best indicate the actual producer prices received by farmers. Similarly the prices paid by farmers for their means of production should be recorded at the last marketing stage, that at which the items arrive on the farm, so as to best indicate the purchase prices paid by farmers. It is assumed, by convention, that the fertilisers and feedingstuffs purchased are used in the same production period and that there are no stocks on farm.
As regards spatial comparisons, the structure of the weights with respect to products and means of production reflect the value of the sales and purchases in each country during the base year (currently 2005=100); the weights therefore differ from one country to another.
Selling prices for a range of agricultural products are likewise recorded at the first marketing stage — often prices from the farmer to the trade (excluding transport). In most cases the selling prices collected relate to a standard quantity of 100 kilograms, while selling prices per 100 litres are used for liquids and prices per 100 items for eggs.
One of the principal objectives of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is to provide farmers with a reasonable standard of living. Although this concept is not defined explicitly within the CAP, a range of indicators — including those on income development from farming activities — may be used to determine the progress being made towards this objective. Economic accounts for agriculture (EAA) provide an insight, among others, into:
- the economic viability of agriculture;
- the income received by farmers;
- the structure and composition of agricultural production and intermediate consumption;
- relationships between prices and quantities of both inputs and outputs.
A 2003 reform of the CAP introduced a new system of direct payments, known as the single payment scheme. Its goal was to ensure a safety net for farmers in the form of basic income support, decoupled from production, while stabilising farmer’s incomes from their sales to market (which are subject to volatility). To maximise their profits, farmers were encouraged to respond to market signals — producing goods that consumers want — and to look after the farmland while fulfilling environmental, animal welfare and food safety standards.
The European Commission launched a public debate on the future of the CAP during 2010. Its outcome, coupled with input from the European Council and Parliament, led the Commission to present a Communication in November 2010, titled ‘The CAP towards 2020: meeting the food, natural resources and territorial challenges of the future’ (COM(2010) 672 final). This was followed, in October 2011, by a set of legal proposals concerning the future of the CAP. After almost two years of negotiations, a political agreement was reached on 26 June 2013, and these new proposals will come into effect as of 1 January 2014. With a budget of EUR 303.1 billion foreseen for the period 2014–20, direct payments will continue to form a significant part of the European Union’s (EU’s) agricultural and rural development budget.
- Agricultural census
- Agricultural production - animals
- Agricultural production - crops
- Agriculture, forestry and fisheries introduced
Further Eurostat information
- Agriculture, forestry and fishery statistics — 2013 edition (Pocketbook)
- Agricultural income per annual work unit in EU-27 remained at the same level in 2012 - Statistics in focus 19/2013
- Agriculture (t_agri), see:
- Economic accounts for agriculture (t_aact)
- Agricultural prices and price indices (t_apri)
- Agriculture (agri), see:
- Economic accounts for agriculture (aact)
- Economic Accounts for Agriculture (aact_eaa)
- Agricultural Labour Input Statistics (aact_ali)
- Unit value statistics for agricultural products (aact_uv)
- Agricultural prices and price indices (apri)
- Selling prices of agricultural products (absolute prices), land prices and rents (apri_ap)
- Price indices of agricultural products (apri_pi)
Methodology / Metadata
- Economic Accounts for Agriculture (ESMS metadata file)
- Manual on the Economic Accounts for Agriculture and Forestry EAA/EAF 97 (Rev. 1.1)
- Price indices of agricultural products (ESMS metadata file)
- Selling prices of agricultural products (absolute prices), land prices and rents (ESMS metadata file)
- Target methodology for agricultural labour input (ALI) statistics (Rev. 1)
Source data for tables, figures and maps (MS Excel)
- Regulation 138/2004 of 5 December 2003 concerning economic accounts for agriculture