Economic importance

The importance of agriculture in Switzerland extends far beyond food production. It would be hard to imagine the typical landscapes and picturesque Alpine meadows without the many small farms that characterise them. It is in the public interest of the country to maintain a way of life that is close to nature and countryside dwellings. This work by farmers is anchored in the Swiss Federal Constitution and is supported by the state. In addition, many upstream and downstream businesses benefit from agriculture, for example seed manufacturers or sugar mills.

The agriculture and meat industries are important economic sectors. Switzerland has around 52'000 farms with approximately 153'000 workers and over 22'000 staff employed in the meat industry. The production value of meat was slightly over a quarter of the whole agricultural production value in 2015.

Lots of meat from the mountains

Since 1996, the number of farms has decreased. However, the area used for agricultural purposes has remained unchanged, and the average farm size has increased. Almost three quarters of farms specialise in livestock farming. Most of the farms that deal with livestock can be found in the mountainous regions. Mixed farms (crops and livestock) can usually be found in the valleys.

Facts and figures

  • Agricultural area (2016): 1'050'000 ha (70% of which is green area)
  • Farms (2016): araound 52'000
  • Employees (2016): 153'000