Farm sales a driving force for others

The turnover from multifunctional agricultural branches (etc.) has for the first time exceeded 1 billion euros. Despite, and in a sense due to, the corona crisis. Farm sales are the biggest driving force behind revenue growth.

This is stated in the research series ‘Look at multifunctional agriculture’ by Wageningen University & Research (WUR) commissioned by the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality. About 30 percent of Dutch farmers and gardeners are gathered under the mfl companies. Between 2018 and 2020, their revenue increased by 15 percent, research shows.

Mfl’s importance as an economic activity for the Netherlands has thus continued to grow in recent years, the researchers conclude. The turnover of mfl in 2020 is estimated at 1,015 million euros, an increase of 130 million euros compared to 2018. In 2007, when the first measurement took place, the turnover amounted to almost 300 million euros.

However, there are major differences between the different side branches. Six are defined in the research: farm sales, foster care, recreation, agricultural child care, nature management and farm education.


Seven hundred extra farm shops were added, they added 100 million euros

Largest branch

The farm sale accounted for 370 million euros in turnover in 2020 distributed among 3,870 companies. This branch is the largest. The Corona outbreak and the associated initiatives had a positive effect in this industry.

Consumers knew how to find their way to the farm. The revenue growth of 100 million compared to 2018 is proof of this, but the growth in the number of points of sale by 700 in those years symbolizes the importance of this side employment even better.

Nursing farming can also be a lucrative industry, according to WUR research. Where 756 foster farmers in 2007 accounted for an average turnover of 60,000 euros per company, by 2020 it had increased to 1,300 companies with an average turnover of 242,500 euros with this industry.

It is striking that many of the starters in this industry have mainly a care background and to a lesser extent an agricultural background. Without corona, the total turnover of 315 million euros would have been a few percent higher, the researchers conclude.

One subsector that suffered much more from the corona outbreak was daytime and overnight recreation. Although the number of agricultural and horticultural enterprises with such ancillary employment increased from 3,140 to 3,200, total turnover decreased from 221 million to 138 million euros.

The closure in the spring, a good time for this sector, played an important role. Part of the turnover was taken back in the summer because people more often went on holiday in their own country.

Group overnight stays were the most difficult in the recreation sector, their turnover went from 54 million euros in 2018 to 8 million euros in 2020. Their number also fell, and so did the farm campsites. However, there were several houses and apartments.

The business market was also hit hard by the corona measures. In addition, due to the increase in online meetings, venues are expected to continue to struggle.

Agricultural childcare

Companies offering childcare in agriculture accounted for an average turnover of more than 1 million euros in 2020. The size of these companies is still increasing and corona had no negative effect on revenue. In the coming years, it will be a challenge to find sufficient staff and obtain permits due to air quality requirements.

Another youth-oriented branch, agricultural education, takes place on a thousand farms. In 2020, this had only a total turnover of 100,000 euros, mainly due to the corona. The agricultural nature management provided an average of 7,000 euros for 11,200 companies.

Every third farm has a side job

15,760 farms were multifunctional by 2020, according to research from Wageningen University & Research. That is about 30 percent of the total number of agricultural holdings. Multifunctional activities are relatively common on dairy farms (36 percent), other grazing livestock farms (19 percent), open field horticulture (15 percent), and arable farming (14 percent). Dairy farmers relatively often have agricultural education, agricultural nature management and childcare as side jobs. The other grazing livestock farms, on the other hand, are strongly represented in the care farm.

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