Farmers in Spain gathering an onion cropGathering an onion crop in Spain © Design Pics Inc/Rex Shutterstock

More than a quarter of farms in the EU disappeared in the decade to 2013, according to figures from the EU’s Farm Structure Survey.

About 27.5% of holdings – some 4m – were lost between 2003 and 2013, taking the total number of farms to 10.8m.

However, the area of land in agricultural production remained largely the same at 174.6m ha, meaning the average area per holding grew 38% from 11.7ha to 16.1ha in 2013.

Ireland was the only member state to actually increase its number of farms, while Slovakia lost more than 67% of its farms.

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In comparison, the UK lost 34% of its farms – the 10th biggest loss of all member states – with the average holding increasing in size from 57.4ha in 2003 to 93.6ha in 2013.

This meant the UK had the largest average holding size of all EU member states after the Czech Republic, which had an average farm size of 133ha.

France, Spain and the UK had the largest proportion of land in agricultural production, accounting for 15.9%, 13.4% and 9.9% of all EU farmland.

Malta and Cyprus had the smallest holdings, at 1.2ha and 3.1ha.