Agriculture management entities dips below 1.2 million, large-scale farmers’ acreage also decreasing

TOKYO, July. 29 – The number of agriculture management entities in Japan has gone below 1.2 million, the lowest in the past ten years, according to the data released by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan. The number of family management entities, which account for more than 90%, dipped 2.7% to 1,152,800. These figures underline a weakening production base in Japan due to a severe labor shortage and an aging population. The acreage of large-scale agriculture management entities has also started to decline. The decrease in the number of the entities who had been covering the loss of small-scale family-run entities is making it difficult for Japan to develop various industrial leaders.

The total number of agriculture management entities is 1,188,800, down 2.6% from the previous year. Compared to 1,679,100 ten years ago, it dropped by more than 490,000 or around 30%.

Of all organized management entities, agricultural production entities are 23,400, an increase of around 3%.

On the other hand, the number of small-scale family-run agricultural entities keeps decreasing. Japan’s entire agricultural acreage is now 3,531,600 hectares, and 9.3% of them belongs to the entities with acreage of less than 1 hectare. The ratio has been decreasing since 2014, five years ago, when the ratio was 12.8%, more than one-tenth.

Small-scale farmers are giving up their businesses at an accelerated pace far too many for large-scale agricultural entities to take over the vacant farmland. This leads to the decrease of the entire farm acreage by approximately 60,000 hectares to 3.53 million hectares.

The labor shortage and the aging population show no sign of touching bottom. Core persons engaged in farming of commercial farm households decreased by 3.2% to 1,404,100.

By age group, the number of core agricultural workers of over 70 was 590,100, which accounts for 42% — meanwhile, those under 49 years of age amount to only 147,800, down 2.9% year-over-year.

The number of permanently hired workers on farm (Jo-Yatoi) is 236,100, down 1.7% in all hired farm workers. There is no significant difference in portions by age group, from the twenties to over 70, and each group accounts for 10 to 20%. But the total number of Jo-Yatoi workers has not increased.

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