German agriculture netted around 43.7 billion euros in revenue in 2021. That same year, when broken down by segment, mixed agriculture was the most profitable, followed by agricultural services and grain cultivation (pulses and oilseeds). Mixed agriculture, more widely known as mixed farming, involves growing crops and raising animals on one property, creating a farm that serves multiple agricultural purposes. Agricultural services include a broad range of activities and are defined by contributing to agricultural production.
The number of agricultural businesses in Germany has dwindled significantly since the 1970s. If there were around 904,700 businesses in 1975, in 2022 there were 256,000. On the one hand, farmers have to contend with agricultural legislation and various issues to keep their businesses alive. This is especially true after the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and its subsequent restrictions, such as for deliveries to and from abroad, as well as hiring workers from other countries during harvest season. On the other hand, industrial and technological advancements have allowed for work which required copious amounts of labor in previous decades to be completed with less human interaction. Employee numbers have been decreasing in recent years, with 550,000 recorded in 2022, compared to 667,000 ten years ago. The leading expectations of the population from agricultural businesses were animal husbandry appropriate to the species and fair pay for employees.
Germany currently has the largest population in the EU and it is also one of the richest countries in Europe. How sufficient is its agriculture for the population's needs? The self-sufficiency rate is an important indicator of the agricultural sector. It is a percentage of necessary agricultural products produced in a country on its own. A shortage is defined by a self-sufficiency rate under 100 percent, which is when additional imports may be included. In 2022, fresh milk products had a self-sufficiency rate of around 115 percent, thus indicating that Germany is more than able to supply the nation with these products domestically. By comparison, the self-sufficiency rate for fruit was roughly 20 percent, as there are quite a few types that do not grow on German soil, but are still popular and in demand. Low self-sufficiency rates mean that agricultural sectors in other countries may focus especially on certain exports, such as fruit that grows in warmer climates than Germany. In 2022, Germany imported around 14.13 million tons of fresh fruits and vegetables.
German agriculture is making progress in the field of organic farming, which becomes ever more relevant in the context of global climate change and ongoing environmental concerns. Organic farming aims to use sustainable methods, relying on non-chemical, natural fertilizers and pesticides. These come from animal and plant waste. The challenges involved include higher product prices for consumers and therefore lower yields for producers.