Number of Swiss farms continues to fall

Number of Swiss farms continues to fall

In 2010, the number of farms in Switzerland fell to below 60,000, according to figures released Tuesday by the federal statistics office. The number of organic farms is also shrinking.

Last year, there were 59,065 farms in Switzerland, 1.6 percent fewer than in 2009. The number employed on them also fell. All in all, 167,462 people worked in the agricultural sector in 2010, a decrease of 1.4 percent. 

Mid-sized agricultural operations between 3 and 20 hectares have been hardest hit, and there were 1,050 fewer of them in 2010 than the year before.

Of those farms remaining, 59 percent of them are located in the flatlands, while 41.3 percent are in mountainous areas.

The number of organic farms has also fallen, have shrunk by 2.1 percent in 2010.

While there are fewer farms overall, more of them are increasing their animal stocks, the statistics office found. Most livestock is made up of pigs and cattle, and their numbers have remained relatively stable.

The number of chickens rose last year, surpassing nine million.

It has been a difficult few years for Swiss agriculture. Income from the sector fell by 3.4 percent in 2010 compared with the previous year, after the 7.7 percent drop in 2009.

The main reasons for the decline were poorer harvests, falling milk prices and the saturation of the pork market. Average earnings per job in the sector have also fallen slightly.

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