Farm structure in Latvia
From Statistics Explained
- Data from July 2008. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database.
This article is part of a series of country-specific essays on the results of the European Union (EU) Farm structure survey (FSS) 2007. It provides a brief but nevertheless comprehensive insight into farm structure in Latvia.
The 2007 FSS recorded 107 750 agricultural holdings in Latvia, which represents a 16 % decrease since 2005. This drop results mainly from the concentration of farms: the smaller farms have suffered a 22 % reduction accompanied by a growth in area (19 %) and number (25 %) in the larger farms.
Main statistical findings
Utilised agricultural area up by 10 %
These farms made use of 1.4 million hectares (ha) of utilised agricultural area, (10 % up from 1.3 million ha in 2005), which makes the average size of a holding in Latvia 32 ha. See Figure 1 for the distribution of UAA in terms of farm size, while Table 2 describes the size distribution and other characteristics of the agricultural holdings.
These holdings employed 70 000 annual work units (AWUs), the equivalent of 70 000 people working full time, a decrease of 14 % since 2005. The organisation and distribution of the labour force in Latvia is described in Figure 2 and Table 1.
The farms contained 0.46 livestock units (LSU) in 2007, 11 % more than in 2005, mainly due to an increase of 70 % in the number of sheep and of 13 % in cattle. The distribution of livestock by farm size is shown in Table 4 and Figure 3.
Amongst the 44 400 agricultural holdings in 2007:
- 32 % made use of less than one AWU, while another 21 % made use of two or more AWUs;
- 68 % used less than 20 ha, while 5 % used 100 ha or more;
- 49 % were producing mainly for own consumption, a decrease compared with 2007 (53 %);
- 37 % were specialists in livestock;
- 31 % were specialists in dairy farming;
- 19 % were engaged in field crops – grazing livestock combined;
- 15 % specialize in mixed livestock, mainly grazing livestock.
Amongst the sole holders:
- 43 % were women in 2007 (almost half of the holdings with UAA under 20 ha are owned by women, the value falls to 22 % for farms with 100 ha of UAA and over);
- 46 % were aged 55 or more and 7 % were younger than 35 years;
- 31 % had another gainful activity in 2007.
In Latvia in 2007, 68 % of the agricultural area was owned by farmers.
The family labour force decreased by 16 % from 2005 to 2007.
96 900 ha were organically farmed (6.8 % of the utilised agricultural area, compared with 1.3 % in 2005). The number of farms with organic farming also had a significant increase: from slightly over 400 in 2005 to almost 2 500 in 2007. Details of land use by size of farm are given in Table 3.
The share of holdings producing mainly for direct sales rose to 12 % in 2007, compared with 7 % in 2005.
The situation for subsistence farming in Latvia is outlined in Table 5.
Data sources and availability
Due to the different coverage of the FSS across Member States, the total number of farms is not comparable between countries. This is why the present analysis, including Tables 1-4 and the figures focus on holdings of at least one European size unit.
The survey on the structure of agricultural holdings in Latvia was carried out in the summer 2007 using a combined method (exhaustive and sample survey). This was the fourth Farm structure survey in Latvia; prior to this, one full-scale agricultural census was conducted in 2001 and two other sample surveys in 2003 and 2005. The reference date of the FSS 2007 was the 1st June 2007. The reference period for labour force covers June 1, 2006 to May 31, 2007.
The sample frame for the 2007 FSS was the statistical Farm Register, created in 1999 and regularly updated by statistical and administrative sources. The target population for the FSS 2007 covers all the holdings with a threshold of at least 0.1 ESU, new farms with at least 5 ha, and nonactive farms with 10 ha or more. The non-active farms where included because the farm register does not always list the real activity of the holding.
Exhaustive enumeration was used for all active farms with 2 or more ESU, this included 17 875 holdings. The other holdings where sampled through a simple stratified random sample. The frame was stratified by activity (active, non-active and new or unobserved units), location (NUTS 4 level), by economic size/area (4 categories of ESU for active farms, 7 categories in UAA for other ones) and by type of farming (8 groups; only for active farms). The sample included a total of 58 002 holdings.
The verification of the surveys and the data was done in three different steps: There was a manual check where the surveys had a visual control for missing or incorrect features. After scanning the surveys an arithmetical and logical validation was carried out. There was also a comparison between the results of the survey, the administrative information and data from previous surveys. For very discrepant results the holders interviewed in previous surveys were contacted by phone and the errors were corrected.
Between FSS 2005 and 2007 "maintaining land in good agricultural and environmental conditions" (GAEC) became an agricultural activity and the concerned land has been included in the agricultural area. In Latvia it covers 1 100 ha, 46% being in farms with at least 1 ESU.
For each activity (`enterprise`) on a farm (for instance wheat, dairy cow or vineyard), a standard gross margin (SGM) is estimated, based on the area (or the number of heads) and a regional coefficient. The sum of such margins in a farm is its economic size, expressed in European size units (ESU, 1 ESU is a 1200-euro SGM).
An annual work unit (AWU) is equivalent to a worker employed on a full time basis for one year. In Latvia it is 1840 hours (230 working days of 8 working hours per day).
European Commission rural development policy aims to improve competitiveness in agriculture and forestry, improve the environment and countryside, improve the quality of life in rural areas and encourage the diversification of rural economies.
As agriculture has modernised and the importance of industry and services within the economy has increased, so agriculture has become much less important as a source of jobs. Consequently, increasing emphasis is placed on the role farmers can play in rural development, including forestry, biodiversity, the diversification of the rural economy to create alternative jobs and environmental protection in rural areas.
The FSS continues to adapt to provide timely and relevant data to help analyse and follow these developments.
Further Eurostat information
- Farm Structure Survey in Latvia - 2007 - Statistics in focus 109/2008
- National Methodological Report – FSS 2007 Latvia (available on request)
- Agriculture, see:
- Farm Structure: historical data (1990-2007) (t_ef)
- Agriculture, see:
- Farm Structure (ef)
- Ad-hoc tables: Farm Structure Survey
Methodology / Metadata
- Farm Structure (ESMS metadata file - ef_esms)