Agriculture has always occupied a prominent place in Belgium. However, it has seen its number of farms decrease from year to year (-3.5% in 2010) amounting to a total of 42,000 in Flanders and Wallonia (against 113,000 in 1980). This sector represents 0.65% of GDP in 2010 against 1.13% in 1980. However, through its involvement with the food industry, this part becomes more important.
Food prices have been on the rise in the last ten years: the increase in consummation of prepared meals explains this trend. Dairy products have not remained at rest, with higher prices exceeding 25% since 2006.
If agriculture shows some signs of weakness, some elements are encouraging. This sector supports less than 100,000 people in Belgium.
Agriculture as such represents less than 6% of Belgian exports. If we add the food, beverage and tobacco industry, this figure reaches 11%. Its turnover amounts to EUR 39 billion. From the perspective of the EU-27, Belgium presents some advantages: the weight of the pork production is one of the most important in the country (20% against 9% in France). Horticultural production also represents a relatively important emphasis.
Organic agriculture undoubtedly represents the future of the sector in Belgium. The number of farms that are so dedicated is increasing (1,140 farms in 2010 compared to 733 in 2005). This figure is set to grow in the coming years. However, growth is stronger in Wallonia than in Flanders. In the latter, the conversion has involved more horticulturists, while in Wallonia, it particularly concerned breeders.
The development of the number of certified organic cattle is very substantial: it has doubled in 5 years. The phenomenon of mechanisation, the growth of the area of operations and the emergence of organic farming are many challenges facing Belgian agriculture in the coming years.