Skip to navigation
Skip to main content
January 2018, Volume 24, Number 1
EU Farm Labor
The EU had farm sales of E405 billion in 2016, including 205 billion from crops and 155 billion from crops. France led in farm sales with E70 billion, followed by Italy and Germany with E53 billion; Spain with E47 billion; and the UK and the Netherlands with E27 billion.
The EU had 12 million farms in 2010 that employed 25 million workers, including farmers and their spouses who work on farms part-time. 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 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 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, Poland with 1.9 million AWUs and Romania with 1.6 million account 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 in agriculture, Greece, Italy and Netherlands, about 12 percent.
Another survey, the Economic Accounts for Agriculture (EAA) reports 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. It 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 interviews 1.5 million people each quarter, and found an average 9.9 million workers employed in agriculture in 2012, including those who are self-employed.
The EU does not publish extensive data on hired farm workers. 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 gravitate to rural areas for many reasons, including easier access to jobs if unauthorized and lower living costs, but they face exploitation and abuse.
The EU's Common Agricultural Policy absorbs about 40 percent of the EU's annual budget, which was E134 billion for payments in 2017 and E158 billion for commitments. Most CAP spending is income support for farmers who can produce any commodity except fruits and vegetables.
How many people work in agriculture in the European Union, 2013. https://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/sites/agriculture/files/rural-area-economics/briefs/pdf/08_en.pdf
Israel. Israel has 8.3 million people, including 165,000 who live on 270 kibbutzim that were begun to provide their residents with food. Israel exports $1.2 billion of farm goods as well as $22.5 billion of high-tech goods. Kibbutzim were originally socialist enterprises, but most privatized in the 1990s and now pay those who work on the kibbutz a salary and tax the wages of members who work off the kibbutz.