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Environmental Performance of Agriculture in OECD Countries Since 1990

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

Agriculture’s contribution to the economy remains important but is declining. Farming’s contribution to GDP and employment has halved since 1990, reaching 2.7% of GDP and 9.5% of total employment in 2004, and its share of total export value was around 6% during 2002-04 [1] (Figure 3.23.1). In terms of natural resources farming accounts for over 40% of total land use and 75% of total water use [1, 2]. Agriculture has undergone significant structural change with environmental implications. Overall farm production volume remained near stable between 1990-92 and 2002-04 while the area farmed decreased by 5%, employment in agriculture declined by 53% and the number of farms decreased by 40%. This has led to the substitution of labour by capital and purchased inputs over the period since 1990, with mixed pressures on the environment in view of the diversity of production systems and farm size across the country. Some purchased farm input use increased, including inorganic nitrogen fertilisers (20%), pesticides (26%), and water use (21%), although there was less use of inorganic phosphorus fertilisers (–23%) and on-farm direct energy consumption (–23%) (Figure 3.23.2). Underlying these changes has been a major shift from crop to livestock production, with the volume of livestock production rising by 15% compared to a reduction of almost 5% in crop production between 1990-92 and 2002-04, although for some crops output rose, notably for maize, sugar beet, olives, and horticultural crops.

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