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: Norway

Agriculture is a small sector in the economy, with its share of GDP and total employment at under 1% and 4% respectively in 2004 [1] (Figure 3.21.1). While the volume of farm production remained stable between 1990 to 1997, it then declined by about 2% to 2004, largely reflecting a drop in livestock output [2]. Chemical input use has declined more rapidly than farm output suggesting production intensity is diminishing, with the volume of purchased farm input use decreasing between 1990-92 and 2002-04 by around 6% and 17% for nitrogen and phosphate inorganic fertilisers respectively, 26% for pesticides (1990- 2003). Direct on-farm energy consumption rose by over 24% (Figure 3.21.2), however, this number should be used with caution because of uncertainties in the data series. Norway is one of a few OECD countries where the area farmed increased by 4% from 1990-92 to 2002-04. This largely reflects the growth in the area under pasture, partly offset by a reduction in the arable and permanent crop area [1]. Some of the apparent increase in area farmed was due to improved registration and reporting by farmers due to the transition from a farm support system based on production to one based on area. Another reason for the growth in agricultural land is related to stricter requirements with regards to the minimum area for manure spreading [3]. The share of farmland in the total area is the lowest across OECD countries at around 3% in 2002-04, because of limits to cultivation due to topography, climate and the length of the growing season [1]. Cereal production dominates the lowlands in eastern and central areas, while grassland, mainly for dairy, accounts for much of the remaining farmland [3].

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