72.4% of the agricultural labour force comes from the family circle

Agriculture & fishery
72.4% of the agricultural labour force comes from the family circle

In 2020, Belgium has just over 68,000 regular workers in agriculture and horticulture. 67.6% of the regular workforce is located in Flanders, 32.3% in Wallonia and 0.2% in the Brussels-Capital Region.

In forty years, the regular labour force in Belgium has decreased by 63.3%. It is mainly the family workforce that is affected by this decrease.

In 2020, 72.4% of the total regular workforce came from the family circle. This proportion was 96.1% in 1980. The proportion of family labour force in relation to the total regular labour force also varies across regions: 80.7% in Wallonia compared to 68.6% in Flanders. Farmers account for 60.3% of the family workforce in Belgium, while assisting spouses and other family members represent 20.6% and 19.1% of the total family workforce.

Over time, the proportion of assisting spouses in the total regular workforce has decreased. This proportion was 24.5% in 1980, compared to 14.9% in 2020.

The last 40 years have seen an increase in the proportion of non-family labour in the total regular labour force. This non-family regular workforce accounts for 27.6% of the total regular workforce in 2020, compared to 3.9% in 1980.

In 2020, women represent almost 30% of the total regular agricultural labour force. This proportion is relatively stable over time (34.2% in 1980). 4 out of 10 women active in agriculture help their spouse on the farm in 2020; they were 7 out of 10 women in 1980.

One third of spouses work full time on the farm in 2020. 28.4% of workers of the regular labour force declare that they have another gainful activity. 57.6% of them would have another gainful activity as their main occupation: this other gainful activity being unrelated to the farm in 98.3% of cases. It should be noted that in 2020, compared to previous years, direct sales are considered as an agricultural diversification activity.

In 2020, 7,285 farms carried out direct farm sales, which is an increase of over 148% compared to 2016. The Coronavirus crisis is undoubtedly a factor in this phenomenon.