The EU-27 accounted for approximately 12 million farms and 170 million ha of UAA in 2010. These figures, which are only partial, show that almost 3 million farms were lost between 2003 and 2010 by those Member States for which a comparison can already be made. This corresponds to an average annual rate of decline of -3% in the number of farms, or around 390 000 farms per year. The highest decreases took place in Estonia (-46.6%), Bulgaria (-44.2%), Latvia (-34.4%) and Poland (-30.7%), the lowest in Slovenia (-3.2%) and Luxembourg (-9.8%), whereas Malta ( 17.4%) and Sweden ( 4.4%) registered an increase in the number of farms.
A tendency towards larger holdings is confirmed by the lower rate of decrease in the land area used by agricultural holdings, which has even increased in one third of the EU countries between 2003 and 2010. The biggest reduction took place in Cyprus (-24.3%) and Austria (-8%), whereas the largest increases took place in Bulgaria ( 24.7%), Latvia ( 19.9%) and Estonia ( 18.0%). As a result, the average farm size increased in all EU Member States (except Cyprus and Malta) from their year of accession to the EU until 2010. Denmark and Luxembourg had the highest average farm size in 2010, reaching 64.6 ha/farm and 59.3 ha/farm, respectively, whereas Malta (0.1 ha/farm) and Cyprus (3.1 ha/farm) had the smallest ones. However, despite this overall increase, considerable differences exist among EU Member States in the speed at which the increase has taken place. For example, among the EU-15, Belgium and France experienced an increase in the average farm size of 21 ha and 30.2 ha, respectively, which means an increase of 198% (from 10.6 to 31.7 ha/farm) for Belgium and 135% (from 22.4 to 52.6 ha/farm) for France, between 1975 and 2010. On the other hand, Italy only experienced an increase of 27.8% or 1.7 ha/farm (from 6.2 to 7.9 ha/farm) between 1975 and 2010. Among the EU-12 the differences are similar. For example, Estonia and Bulgaria experienced an increase in the average farm size of 26 ha and 5.4 ha, respectively, which means an increase of 121% (from 21.6 to 47.7 ha/farm) for Estonia and 124% (from 4.4 to 9.8 ha/farm) for Bulgaria, between 2003 and 2010. On the other hand, the average farm size in Romania only increased by 0.3 ha or 11% (from 3.1 ha/farm to 3.4 ha/farm) between 2003 and 2010.
January 2012/ European Commission/ European Union.