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Belgium Agriculture and Fishing Overview
Agriculture and fishing
Around four-tenths of Belgium's surface is cultivated and grazing land. The agricultural sector accounts for less than 1 percent of GDP, but still generates a trade surplus mainly through the sale of pigs and other animals.
The most important agricultural areas are in the north where there are areas that were previously seabed and therefore have very fertile soil. The mild climate also creates good conditions for agriculture.
The most important crops are sugar beets, cereals and potatoes. Meat and dairy products are also important commodities. Pork alone accounts for a quarter of the value of agricultural exports. Pig farms are mainly found in Flanders, while cereal production is most common in Wallonia.
The cultivated area is declining and small farms have disappeared at a rapid pace, but production has nevertheless increased. The sector is now characterized by large companies with high mechanization and intensive farming methods that produce larger harvests. Agriculture employs only a few percent of the labor force.
Belgian agriculture was shaken by a severe crisis in 1999 when it was discovered that the carcinogenic substance dioxin was used in animal feed, with the good memory of the authorities (see Modern history). It did not get any better when the government had to admit that even sewage sludge ended up in the feed.
Belgium is not a big fishing nation, despite its proximity to the North Sea. Most fish caught goes to domestic consumption.
FACTS - AGRICULTURE
Agriculture's share of GDP
0.7 percent (2018)
Percentage of land used for agriculture
44.6 percent (2016)
Woman is appointed head of government
King Philippe appoints Budget Minister Sophie Wilmès as acting prime minister in the transitional government that has been leading Belgium for almost a year (see December 2018 and May 2019). 44-year-old Wilmès succeeds Charles Michel, who will take over as President of the European Council on 1 December. She is Belgium's first female head of government and, like Michel, belongs to the Walloon Liberal Party Reform Movement. The government talks are still slow.
Michel becoming EU President
Outgoing Prime Minister Charles Michel is elected President of the European Council, one of the top jobs in the EU. He succeeds Donald Tusk on December 1st.
Outsides and the green winners in triple selection
The anti-immigrant and separatist Flemish interest (VB) is advancing and receiving almost the most votes from all parties in the federal parliamentary elections. In the simultaneous EU and regional elections, VB is also second largest. In the Federal Parliament, VB goes from 3 to 18 seats and becomes the third largest in terms of seats. At the same time, the far-left party of Belgium's workers' party (PVDA / PTB) is increasing from 2 to 12 seats. The slightly more moderate right-wing party NVA backs slightly but remains the largest party with 25 seats. The Walloon Socialist Party loses some mandates but remains as the second largest party in terms of mandates (20). PPrime Minister Charles Michel's party The Reform Movement (MR) receives 14 seats, the Walloon Environmental Party Ecolo 13, the Flemish Christian Democrats CD&V 12, the Flemish Liberal Open VLD 12, the Flemish Socialist Party SP-A 9, the Flemish Environmental Party Green 8, the Walloon Party 5 and the Social Liberal Defi 2 mandate. In the EU elections, the distribution of seats will be as follows: N-VA 3, Open VLD 2, MR 2, CDV2, Ecolo 2, PS 2, CDH 1, CSP 1, Green 1, PTB-PVDA 1, SP-A 1.
Climate-striking children lead to ministerial resignation
6th of February
Flanders Environment Minister Joke Schauvliege resigns after she wrongly claimed that climate-striking schoolchildren posed a security threat to her. Tens of thousands of students have conducted school strikes four Thursdays in a row, inspired by the Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg. Students require action against climate change. In Flanders, protests have been directed at Schauvliege, who says she received thousands of text messages. But she is forced to back away from a claim that the security service would have said the students were manipulated by environmental groups.