Grass gives Irish farmers a competitive advantage, but the focus on grassland-based livestock production leaves it languishing in the lower half of the EU-28 farm productivity league table.
According to the latest Agra Europe analysis of European Commission data, the most productive EU member state is more than 30 times more efficient, in terms of productivity per farm worker, than the least productive.
And the data revealed a huge 60-fold variation in productivity in terms of agricultural gross value added per hectare of farmland.
According to Agra Europe, the data illustrates clearly why the Commission rejected as unfeasible calls to harmonise rates of Pillar One subsidy per hectare across all member states, in discussions prior to the conclusion of the new CAP regime for 2014-2020.
Based on the Commission’s assessment of Gross Value Added (GVA) in Agriculture for each member state for the latest year available (2013), assessed against levels of employment in agriculture in the same year (measured in terms of full-time equivalent Agricultural Work Units, or AWU), the most productive EU member state is Denmark, which generated revenue of some €74,500 per AWU.
The Danish figure was substantially above those of its closest rivals, the Netherlands (€53,956/AWU), Belgium (€42,007/AWU) and France (€36,102/AWU), and more than four times the EU-28 average figure of €15,900/AWU.
Denmark’s investment in intensive livestock production, notably key export products pigmeat and dairy, underlies the country’s productivity success. At the end of the scale was Latvia, with revenue of just €2,313/AWU.
Portugal and Ireland are the only ‘old’ member states in the bottom half of the table. However, they are joined by other member states with grassland livestock such as the UK, and Sweden, when agricultural GVA is assessed in relation to the area of farmland.
Topping this table is Malta, the EU’s smallest member state, at €5,807/ha of farmland — more than six times the EU average figure of €917/ha.
In last place again is Latvia, which in 2013 generated GVA of €96.7 per hectare of agricultural land — barely 10% of the EU average.
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