Environmental Performance of Agriculture in OECD Countries Since 1990
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Environmental Performance of Agriculture in OECD Countries Since 1990

In OECD countries, agriculture uses on average over 40% of land and water resources, and thus has significant affect on the environment. This report provides the latest and most comprehensive data and analysis on the environmental performance of agriculture in OECD countries since 1990. It covers key environmental themes including soil, water, air and biodiversity and looks at recent policy developments in all 30 countries.

Over recent years the environmental performance of agriculture has improved in many countries, largely due to consumer pressure and changing public opinion. Many OECD countries are now tracking the environmental performance of agriculture, which is informing policy makers and society on the trends in agri-environmental conditions, and can provide a valuable aid to policy analysis. The indicators in this report provide crucial information to monitor and analyse the wide range of policy measures used in agriculture today, and how they are affecting the environment. 

Did You Know?  In OECD countries, agriculture uses on average 40% of land and water resources.

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Agriculture is a small and proportionally declining sector in the economy, with its share of GDP and total employment at 1.4% and 3.4% respectively in 2005 [1] (Figure 3.12.1). Farming is limited by a combination of climate, the length of the growing season and topography, and accounts for only around 20% of the total land area, which is low by comparison with many other OECD countries [2]. Farming is dominated by livestock production based on forage grazing and silage production. Livestock products account for approximately 75% of agricultural value added. Overall the volume of agricultural production has increased by almost 6% between 1990- 92 and 2002-04, but this has been mainly due to higher yields. Livestock numbers have declined for cattle (including dairy cattle), sheep, and poultry, risen slightly for horses used for recreational purposes, although the pig herd almost doubled in size. The decline in the livestock sector, especially sheep, is in part due to the reduction in market price support and export subsidies in the early 1990s [3, 4, 5]. Crop cultivation involves largely fodder crops (barley, and forage grasses), and a small horticultural sector mainly using greenhouses [6]. Although agriculture’s share in total water use was over 40% in 2001-03, there is no use of irrigation as farming is entirely rain-fed. With the overall decline in livestock numbers and decrease in inorganic fertiliser use by over 20%, but little change in the area farmed between 1990-92 and 2002-04, agricultural production is becoming more extensive (Figure 3.12.2).
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