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: Korea

Despite the rapid growth in agricultural production, the acceleration of the Korean economy as a whole has resulted in a decline in the importance of agriculture [1]. Agriculture now accounts for around 4% of GDP and 9% of employment compared to respective figures of 8% and 16% in 1990, while the country is a growing net importer of agricultural products (Figure 3.16.1). Farming is dominated by rice. The crop accounts for 40% of gross farm receipts and 60% of the total agricultural land area, but livestock, especially pigs and poultry, and fruit and vegetables, are becoming more important [2]. Average farm size is extremely small by OECD standards, less than 1.5 hectares, with a narrow spread around this average. As land and labour are scarce, agriculture makes intensive use of purchased inputs and farm machinery. The use of the latter showed the largest increase, over 180%, across OECD countries between 1990-92 and 2001-03, and has led to a 43% rise in direct on-farm energy consumption (Figure 3.16.2). This compares to an almost 40% reduction in farm employment. There are signs that the intensity of production diminished over the period 1990-92 to 2002-04 with a nearly 7% rise in the volume of farm production: 49% for livestock and 5% for crops. Over the same period the volume of inorganic fertiliser use has declined by –22% for nitrogen fertiliser and –33% for phosphate fertiliser, and pesticide use reduced by –8%, but for water use there was an increase of 7% over this period (Figure 3.16.2).

English Also available in: French

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