Environmental Performance of Agriculture in OECD Countries Since 1990

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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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OECD Country Trends of Environmental Conditions related to Agriculture since 1990: Finland

Primary agriculture’s contribution to the economy is small and declining, accounting for 1.2% of GDP and 3.9% of employment in 2004 [1] (Figure 3.7.1). Agricultural productivity improved at around 1% annually between 1992 and 2003, with production remaining about stable (reflecting rising crop production largely offset by declining livestock output) and reduced input use [1, 2, 3, 4]. The intensity of farming has diminished with the area farmed over the period 1990-92 to 2002-04 declining by 12%, one of the largest decreases across the OECD, with even larger reductions in purchased farm input use: nitrogen (–20%) and phosphorus (–60%) inorganic fertilisers; pesticides (–9%); and on-farm direct energy consumption fell by 12% (Figure 3.7.2). Finland’s accession to the EU in 1995 brought major price and structural changes to farming [1, 2, 3, 4]. In 1995 while producer prices declined by 40-50%, although for milk the reduction was 15%, the decrease in input prices was less dramatic [1, 3, 4]. Also the average farm size has increased as their number declined, and a third of farmers are full time. The climate limits farm production, and the share of agricultural land is only 7% of the total land area, among the lowest share across the OECD, with crop production largely in the south, whereas livestock farming is concentrated in the central, eastern and northern regions [1, 5]. As agriculture is largely rain-fed, use of total water resources is extremely limited with irrigation, mainly for vegetables, accounting for only 4% of total farmland in 2000 [6, 7].

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