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: Italy

Agriculture’s role in the economy is small and decreasing, but more important in some regions. Farming contributes just over 2% of GDP, but nearly 5% of employment, although with marked regional differences, contributions rising in the South to over 4% of GDP and nearly 10% of employment [1, 2] (Figure 3.14.1). Horticultural and permanent crops play a dominant role in the farming sector. Horticultural crops; olive groves; and grapes account for nearly 45% of total agricultural value, compared to 11% for cereals and almost 35% for livestock [1]. Horticultural and permanent crop production dominate in the South, with livestock and cereals more prominent in the North. While the total volume of agricultural production declined by 2% over the period 1990-92 to 2002-04, the trend in input use was more varied: pesticides rose by 8%; inorganic nitrogen fertilisers by 5%; and farm energy by 10%; although inorganic phosphorus fertiliser use declined by –26% (Figure 3.14.2). With the area farmed also declining by nearly 14% over this period, this suggests that the intensity of agricultural production has been increasing: both in terms of inputs used per unit volume of output; and per hectare.

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