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FTE Employment in EU-27 Agriculture is 10 million; The 2.3 million hired workers include many immigrants
December 21, 2017
The EU had 12 million farms in 2010 that employed 25 million workers, including farmers and spouses who work part time on farms. There are 10 million full-time equivalent jobs or annual work units on EU farms, and 2.3 million of these AWUs involve hired workers. Note that there was less than one full-time operator or hired worker per farm.
The EU’s Farm Structure Survey (FSS) is conducted every 10 years, most recently in 2010. Romania had the most people employed in agriculture, 7.2 million or almost 30 percent of the total 25 million, followed by 3.8 million in Poland and 3.4 million in Italy. The highest shares of non-family regular hired workers were in the Czech Republic, 68 percent of 133,000, Slovakia, 49 percent of 91,000, and France, 44 percent of a million.
When standardized to 9.8 million AWUs or year-round jobs, Poland with 1.9 million and Romania with 1.6 million accounted for 36 percent of FTE jobs in EU agriculture.
The FSS distinguishes between non-family regular workers with contracts and non-family non-regular workers. The highest shares of non-family non-regular workers, often immigrants, were in Spain, 19 percent of all AWUs or year-round jobs in agriculture, followed by Greece and Italy.
Another survey, the Economic Accounts for Agriculture (EAA) reported 10.1 million AWUs in the EU27 in 2012, including 2.1 million in Poland, 1.6 million in Romania, and 1.2 million in Italy. The EAA finds the highest shares of salaried or hired workers in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, over 70 percent, and the lowest in Ireland and Poland, less than 10 percent.
The Labor Force Surveys conducted by EU member states interview 1.5 million people each quarter. They found an average 9.9 million workers employed in agriculture in 2012, including the self-employed.
National data and case studies suggest that the fewer and larger farms that produce most of the EU’s agricultural output rely increasingly on hired workers, many of whom are immigrants. About 50 percent of the hired or wage workers in Greek agriculture are immigrants, as are over a third in Italy and a quarter in Spain. Immigrant workers move to rural areas for many reasons, including easier access to jobs if they are unauthorized and lower living costs, but they can face exploitation and abuse, especially at the hands of contractors who often assemble work crews.
The EU’s Common Agricultural Policy absorbs 40 percent of the EU’s total budget, which was E134 billion for payments in 2017 and E158 billion for commitments. Most CAP spending is income support for farmers who produce all commodities except fruits and vegetables.