Poland's agricultural census 2020 shows drop in number of working farms

Grzegorz Michałowski/PAP

The president of the Central Statistical Office (GUS), who presented the results of the 2020 agricultural census on Wednesday, said that over the last ten years, 192,000 farms in Poland have ceased operating.

The GUS president, Dominik Rozkrut, said the census showed that in Polish agriculture there is concentration, specialisation and regionalisation of agricultural production. The regional structure of farms is still diversified, from the scattered farms in the south-eastern areas to the largest farms in the north-western part of the country.

The data from the last agricultural census shows that in 2020 there were 1.317 million 317 agricultural holdings (including 1.310 million privately owned farms), a drop of 192,000 (-12.7%) since the last census in 2010. The average area of a farm in total was 12.4 hectares compared to 11.3 hectares in 2010, and the average area of a privately owned farm was 11.4 hectares.

Compared to the results of the 2010 census, the share of the largest farms (over 15 hectares of agricultural land) and the smallest (up to 1 hectares of agricultural land) increased. Typical for Polish agriculture, there is still a significant number of small farms, producing mainly or exclusively for self-supply to the household.

The GUS report also notes that the reasons why such subsistence production is carried out are changing. In the past, in most cases it created a significant supplement to the low income of the rural population (especially for the retired). Currently, the reasons are increasingly liked to an ecological, health or hobby nature.

The COVID-19 pandemic, which prompted owners to retain their land, and many from the urban population to buy homes with a small area of agricultural land, will probably help maintain the above-mentioned phenomenon in the coming years.

In 2020, a further process of changes in the structure of agricultural land and sown area was observed. Areas of agricultural land that is afforested or adapted to the development of other economic activities not related to agriculture is systematically decreasing. Agricultural land excluded from agricultural production mainly covers land of the lowest quality.