Belgium has favorable conditions for agriculture: moderate temperatures, evenly distributed precipitation, and a long growing season. For centuries much of Belgium, especially the Flanders plain, was an area of intensive cultivation. Today, about 28 percent of the country is under cultivation. Farming engages only 2 percent of the total labor force, but it produces sufficient quantities to make Belgium a net food exporter. About two-thirds of the farms are intensively cultivated units of less than 10 hectares (25 acres).
In 2007 the leading crops were sugar beets (5.7 million metric tons), potatoes (2.9 million), wheat (1.5 million), and barley (365,049).
Other important crops included fruits, tomatoes, and flax. Livestock and dairy farming are major agricultural industries. In 2007 the livestock population of Belgium numbered some 6.3 million pigs, 2.6 million cattle, 155,515 sheep, and 43,250 horses.
Forests cover 22 percent of the area of Belgium, and wooded areas are used primarily for recreational purposes. In recent years, stands of conifers have been planted, and forestry activity has increased; however, timber is still imported for the country’s paper industry. The main fishing port of Belgium is Oostende. The fishing fleet exploits the North Atlantic Ocean fisheries from the North Sea to Iceland.