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About 2 million workers are full-time employees in agriculture and forestry in rural areas in the European Union.

More than four million persons are temporarily employed. They are generally used in order to cope with seasonal work peaks. The duration of their employment varies between a few days and 8 months. According to estimates two thirds of the seasonal workers are migrant workers who move nationally and internationally from their place of residence to their place of work. The majority of the migrant workers migrate within the European Union.

The Situation in International Comparison:

Tabelle International Comparison: Employment

The Situation in Individual European Countries:

AT: Austria

The agricultural sector in Austria employs 18,600 workers, thereof 9,300 in agriculture, 4,000 in horticulture, and 5,300 in forestry. Out of the total number of 18,600 agricultural employees 9,500 are full-time and 9,100 are part-time employees (thereof 2,500 Austrians and 6,600 from other EU countries such as former Yugoslavia, Czechia, Poland and Turkey). About 3,000 agricultural workers are registered as unemployed.


BE: Belgium

In agriculture and forestry there are 9,000 workers plus 10,000 seasonal workers.


BG: Bulgaria

Agriculture and forestry employ 44,000 full-time workers and 100,000 seasonal or part-time workers. 1,000,000 small landowners are working often illegally in agriculture. About 60 % of the Bulgarian population live in rural areas. Wage subsidies are paid there because unemployment is very high.


CH: Switzerland

Swiss agriculture employs 18,361 workers throughout the year and 12,303 part-time/seasonal workers. According to estimates there are another 8,000 persons from countries outside EU/EFTA working full-time or part-time 'sans papier' (without a work permit).


CY: Cyprus

Agriculture and forestry in Cyprus employ 5,200 full-time workers. Around 8,000 workers are part-time or seasonal workers usually for 4 to 8 months. Migrant workers are from Bulgaria, Syria and Sri Lanka.


CZ: Czech Republic

In agriculture, forestry and fish production there are 176,200 full-time employees. Excluding fishery and fish production there are 172,700 workers including the members of sales co-operatives.

In agriculture, hunting and associated activities there are 5,100 foreign seasonal workers. In forestry, fishery and fish production there are 1,400 foreigners, i. e. a total of 2.8 % of all foreign workers in Czechia.


DE: Germany

In Germany worker numbers are counted for the individual sectors: agriculture, horticulture, fishery, and forestry. They are broken down into full-time and part-time employees (e. g. persons working half days) and seasonal workers (national workers). Foreign workers (from EU member countries) are recorded separately. The whole industry including agriculture, horticulture, fishery and forestry employs 530,000 workers covered by welfare insurance. 130,000 of them work in agriculture, 230,000 in horticulture and 170,000 in forestry.

The number of workers in permanent employment with welfare insurance is decreasing slightly. Seasonal employment is on the increase. State intervention is designed to increasingly substitute foreign workers by Germans (about 10 % per year). Currently about 270,000 foreign workers are working in agriculture in Germany, 80 % thereof being Polish nationals.


DK: Denmark

The total number of employees is 35,000, thereof 25,000 are working in agriculture and 10,000 in horticultural production. Most agricultural workers are dismissed in winter although the annual working time has been laid down in collective agreements. Most of the 12,000 seasonal workers are from Poland, 2,000 are from the Ukraine.


EE: Estonia

Agriculture employs 15,000 workers. In forestry there are only 400 employees left. 2,500 persons are seasonal workers or part-time workers.


ES: Spain

The number of employees in Spain's agriculture, horticulture, forestry, plant production, animal production, nature parks, hunting, co-operatives and VET services is 725,000. Thereof full-time: 125,000; part-time 600,000. Males and females account for half the number each. The number of foreign migrant workers is 180,000, the number of migrant workers without official documents is estimated to be 35,000.


FI: Finland

Agriculture employs 5,000 all-season workers with welfare insurance. 10,000 workers are employed for less than 8 months (thereof 1,000 migrant workers and 1,200 from third countries). 78 % of migrant workers are from Russia and from the Baltic Republics.


FR: France

France has 276,443 full-time workers employed for the whole year in agriculture and forestry. Another 1,170,079 workers are employed when required. There are 86,684 seasonal workers covered by collective agreements (71,055 thereof are French, and 15,629 migrant workers). Plus 38,518 part-time employees.


GB: United Kingdom

192,000 workers are employed in agriculture and forestry in the United Kingdom. 60,000 are full-time employees in agriculture and horticulture, and 120,000 persons are seasonal workers.


GR: Greece

In agriculture and forestry in Greece there are 10,000 full-time employees. More than 100,000 persons are seasonal workers.


HR: Croatia

In Croatian agriculture there are 35,000 full-time employees and 2,000 seasonal workers.


HU: Hungary

In 2006 companies with more than 5 employees had a total of 93,900 workers, thereof 7.5 % being part-time workers.


IE: Ireland

Agriculture and forestry in Ireland employ 4,250 full-time workers as well as 15,000 seasonal workers.


IS: Iceland

There are 500 employees in agriculture in Iceland who are usually employed for 8 months.


IT: Italy

In Italy 68,000 full-time employees are working in agriculture and forestry, thereof about 10-15,000 in forestry. 600,000 workers are working only part of the year (between 150 and 180 days per year). That entitles them to welfare benefits. About 85-90,000 of these 600,000 are working in forestry.

Another 250,000 persons work only about 10-20 days in forestry.

125,000 persons are non-Italians, with Poles, Romanians and Albanians accounting for 14 and 11 %, respectively, thus forming the largest groups.


LT: Lithuania

In the agricultural sector 3,000 workers are covered by collective agreements. In addition there are 16,000 part-time workers and 3,000 seasonal workers. Migrant workers only account for a small share.


LU: Luxembourg

All in all the agriculture and horticulture sector employs 3,641 workers. 1,980 thereof are covered by collective agreements.

Seasonal workers are employed during the grape harvest. They have working time agreements, and for the whole duration of their employment they are covered by the collective agreement. They account for about 200 workers. Staff representatives also care for the seasonal workers.


LV: Latvia

Latvia's agriculture employs 28,000 workers (with formal contracts), 80 % thereof working less than 8 months per year (22,400 employees). There is a large grey sector, with many people working in agriculture for a short time. They are not covered by the statistics.


MT: Malta

Agriculture and forestry in Malta employ 300 full-time workers and 300 persons as part-time or seasonal workers.


NL: Netherlands

80,000 workers are employed in agriculture and horticulture. They are highly qualified. Until a few years ago temporary workers were mainly Moroccans and Turks. For a few years now they have been replaced by Polish workers. In January 2007 access restrictions for Polish workers were abolished. In 2006 45,000 Polish workers worked in the Netherlands. The number of illegal employees is estimated at 10,000.

Part-time work plays a major role in agriculture in the Netherlands. Temping agencies are using about 200,000 Dutch women and students working between 15 and 20 hours a week and another 200,000 workers.


NO: Norway

The Norwegian agricultural sector employs 1,500 workers, the number of seasonal workers is 20,000. 80 % of them are from Poland, 15 % from the Baltic states, and 5 % from other countries.


PL: Poland

The annual average number of employees in agriculture, hunting and forestry with an employment contract is 153,200, thereof 13,300 in the public sector.

In agriculture there are 92,000 full-time employees, 17,500 part-time employees and about 20,000 seasonal workers. Thereof 16,000 are from the Ukraine and other Eastern countries.


PT: Portugal

Agriculture and forestry employ 140,000 workers, thereof 35,000 full-time employees. Their fields of activity include traditional agriculture with plant and animal production, fruit and vegetable production, forestry, especially cork oak production, hunting, and horticulture. In the context of environmental protection there is growth in garden design and landscaping, and in the services area there are new employment opportunities, e. g. in wine management. More than 105,000 people are seasonal workers, but they pay hardly any contributions to the welfare insurance. Their exact number is unknown because many work informally, or their employment status is unclear (employed or self-employed). Workers come from Africa, but often they move out of agriculture again after a few days.


RO: Romania

Agriculture in Romania employs 128,000 workers plus 35,000 seasonal workers.


SE: Sweden

Sweden's agriculture and horticulture employ 24,000 full-time employees. Out of 19,000 seasonal workers 8,000 are Swedish, 8,000 are migrant workers from EU countries, and 3,000 are from third countries.


SI: Slovenia

In Slovenia there are 3,708 persons employed in agriculture and forestry in rural areas. There is hardly any seasonal work.


SK: Slovakia

Agriculture and forestry in Slovakia employ 70,000 persons, 53,000 thereof in agriculture. 5,000 of them are seasonal workers.


TR: Turkey

In Turkey agriculture and forestry employ 700,000 full-time employees. About 1,000,000 workers are not registered, 522,000 registered workers are seasonal workers.