Agriculture is a small but important sector of the economy which has steadily declined since the "velvet revolution" of 1989. In 1998, cultivated areas accounted for 40% of the total land area. Agriculture contributed 3.9% to GDP in 2001.
The principal crops are grains (wheat, rye, barley, oats, and corn), which support the Czech Republic's dozens of small breweries. Production in 1999 included wheat, 4,028,000 tons; barley, 2,227,000 tons; rye, 206,000 tons; oats, 179,000 tons; and corn, 260,000 tons. At 166 liters (44 gallons) per person, the Czech Republic is the world's highest per capita beer-consuming nation. There is a long tradition of brewing in the Czech Republic; some of the world's oldest brands were invented there. After Germany, the Czech Republic is Europe's largest producer of hops; production in 1999 was 6,000 tons. Other important crops include oilseeds, sugar beets, potatoes, and apples.
Agriculture lags behind other sectors in the restoration of private properties seized after 1948. As of 1993, agricultural subsidies were restricted to the formation of new farms, and the production of wheat, dairy products, and meat. Over the long term, the government estimates that over 250,000 agricultural workers will need to find employment in other sectors and that arable land in use will decrease by 9%