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: Spain

Growth in agricultural production was among the highest across OECD countries, between 1990-92 and 2002-04 (Figure 3.25.2). But between 1990 and 2003 the share of agriculture in GDP declined from 5% to just over 3% and the share of farm employment in total employment from nearly 10% to 5% [1] (Figure 3.25.1). Agriculture’s use of natural resources is significant and accounted for 59% of total land use (2002-04) and 60% of water use (2001-03) [1, 2]. Agricultural production is intensifying on a smaller area of land and is being concentrated in fewer farms [1]. The total area farmed declined by 3.5% between 1990 and 2004, compared to the average for the EU15 of over 5% [1]. During this time the use of farm inputs rose, resulting in higher agricultural productivity and the substitution of labour by purchased inputs since 1990. The rise in the volume of purchased farm inputs over the period 1990-92 to 2002-04 included: nitrogen (5%) and phosphate inorganic fertilisers (13%), pesticides (11%); on-farm energy use (39%) and water use (9%) (Figure 3.25.2). Underlying these changes has been greater regional specialisation in production [3] and a shift from crop to livestock output, with the volume of livestock production rising by nearly 37% (for all livestock types except dairy cows) compared to an increase of 22% in crop production between 1990-92 and 2002-04. Even so, crop production contributes the major share of the total value of agricultural production (over 60% in 2003), and for some crops output has risen more rapidly than for livestock, especially for irrigated crops including olives, vine and horticultural products [1].

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