30% of farmers engage in multifunctional agriculture

Dutch farmers generate more and more revenue from secondary activities, such as care farming, childcare, education, farm sales, nature management and recreation. By 2020, around 30 percent of farmers will be engaged in multifunctional agriculture.

It is one of the striking data in the new State for Agriculture, Nature and Food. The report was published today on the new website of the same name, where from now on you can find the most up-to-date and reliable data on agriculture in the Netherlands.

The State for Agriculture, Nature and Food also states, among other things, that the added value of the total agricultural complex in 2020 – the most current figures – amounted to approximately 55 billion euros. It can be compared with previous years. Three-quarters of this comes from exports, which last year rose by 9 percent to around 105 billion euros. Employment in the agro-complex also showed an upward trend, while the number of agricultural and horticultural businesses fell by 600 last year.

Web portal about nature and agrocomplex

The new web portal State for Agriculture, Nature and Food contains data on the entire agricultural complex: from production, international trade and innovation to animal health, nitrogen and food consumption. The data has been collected, harmonized and validated thanks to a data sciencesolution: Wageningen University & Research’s data warehouse.

The publication is carried out by Wageningen Economic Research and Statistics Netherlands on behalf of the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Safety.

The scope of the publication has also been expanded compared to last year. The report now also deals with the subjects of nature and the fishing industry. In addition, data on structural development, incomes in primary agriculture, environment, innovation and food expenditure and sales channels are made widely available in this publication, where information on the agricultural sector and food consumption is published in context.

A few important conclusions from the publication:

The Dutch agricultural sector

The added value of the total agricultural complex in 2020 was approximately 55 billion euros. Employment has grown to 583,000 working years in 2020. Exports contribute approximately three quarters to the added value and employment in the overall agricultural complex.

In 2021, the Netherlands exported about 105 billion euros worth of agricultural goods, the import value of agricultural goods was 72.5 billion euros. The growth is due to both increased prices and volume growth. In 2021, products worth 75.7 billion euros were exported from our own land, 29 billion euros in products of foreign manufacture, which the Netherlands exported again after processing.

Due to higher costs for raw materials, especially oil and gas, earnings per euros of exports decreased. Vegetables and seeds are the products from which the Netherlands earns the most (just under 5 billion euros).

Agriculture and horticulture

According to the Census of Agriculture in 2021, the number of agricultural and horticultural companies has fallen by almost 600 companies to 52,100. The area of ​​cultivated land used by registered agricultural and horticultural businesses will have decreased by 2,600 hectares by 2021.

Biological agriculture

The number of certified organic agricultural and horticultural businesses in the Netherlands will increase by 2% in 2021 compared to 2020 to 2,063.

A closer look at the agricultural industry

Almost 30% of companies in the agricultural sector (including primary agriculture) with ten or more employees engaged in innovation in one way or another in the period 2018-2020. This proportion was 38% for all companies in the Netherlands.


The activities of the large sea fishing fleet (trawlers), the cutter fleet, the mussel and oyster farming fleet and other smaller sea fishing fall under sea fishing. This part of the fishing complex consists mainly of family businesses. In 2021, the total Dutch sea fishing fleet consisted of around 590 large and small active vessels, on which approximately 1,831 persons on board (FTE) were employed.

Food consumption

Total spending for Dutch households was approximately €360 billion in 2021, of which more than €45 billion will be spent on food and non-alcoholic beverages. In 2020, the share of expenditure on food with a sustainability label with independent verification in supermarkets, foodservice and specialty stores in more sustainable food was 19%.

Environmental impact and emissions

Emissions of greenhouse gases, namely carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane from agriculture and horticulture, have decreased by 19% in 2020 compared to 1990. In 2020, 19% of particulate emissions (PM10) in the Netherlands will come from agriculture and horticulture. The total particulate emission from agriculture has fallen from 6,200 tonnes in 2015 to 5,400 tonnes in 2020.


In 2020, ammonia emissions in agriculture were 1 million kg higher than in 2019, with almost 107 million kg. Cattle farming had the largest share in 2020 with 59 million kg from animal manure, followed by pig farming with 18 million kg and poultry farming with 12 million kg


A red list is an overview of species that have disappeared from the Netherlands or are in danger of disappearing. The number of endangered species is an indicator of the state of nature. An official red list has now been drawn up for 18 species groups, where the status of each native species that belongs to the group is determined. Relatively many species of stoneflies, butterflies, mayflies and bees have completely disappeared from the Netherlands.


The European Water Framework Directive (WFD) sets out the policy for assessing the quality of surface and groundwater in Europe. In 44 of the 710 water bodies in the Netherlands, the biological quality of the surface water is good, in all other water bodies it is insufficient.

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