FACTBOX-Key facts about French agriculture
PARIS, Feb 4 (Reuters) - The European Union's farm budget, of which France is the biggest beneficiary, is set to be trimmed when EU leaders meet in Brussels on Thursday to hammer out the bloc's overall budget for the next seven years.
A subsequent reform of the EU's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) due to be negotiated later this year could further change the way funds are allocated to farmers.
Here are some facts and figures on the stakes for France's farming sector, the largest in the bloc.
PRODUCTION AND FARMING
* France is the EU's largest farm producer with a 19 percent share of EU agricultural output in 2011, followed by Germany (13 pct), Italy (12 pct) and Spain (11 pct).
* Crops make up for more than half of farm output as opposed to Germany, where livestock predominates.
* France is one of the world's top five producers of wheat, sugar beet and rapeseed.
* It is also a major European meat producer, number one in beef and poultry, third in sheep and fourth in pork output.
* A little over one million people are involved in agriculture and the country totaled 514,800 farms in 2010, down 26 percent on 2000.
* France's farm sector employs 2.6 percent of the working population, down from 16 percent in 1962, the year when the European Union's farm policy was launched.
* The average size of French farms has grown over the past years to reach 55 hectares in 2010, three times less than in the U.S. (155 hectares) but 92 times more than China (0.6 hectare).
* More than a quarter of farmers are 55 years and older. In 2010 about three fourths of farmers aged 50 years and older had no successor.
* France's total farmland was at 29 million hectares in 2010. The country loses an average of 82,000 hectares of arable land each year or more than 220 hectares per day.
TOP RECIPIENT OF EU FARM AID
* France is the main beneficiary of the European Union's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), followed by Germany, Spain, Italy and Britain.
* In 2011, France received 9.5 billion euros of EU farm aid, which accounted for 16.6 percent of the CAP budget. Of this, farmers received over 9 billion with the rest going to companies and charities. Grain growers received a total of 3.1 billion euros in payments and livestock farmers 4.7 billion.
* In 2013 the CAP amounted to 39 percent of the total EU budget (58 billion out of a total of 150 billion euros).
* Approximately 70 percent of CAP expenditure is allocated to direct payments to farmers. Approximately 20 percent of the budget is spent on rural development and the rest is used for export subsidies.
* France is the European Union's largest grain exporter. Half of France's grain output is sold abroad.
* In 2011, agri-food products accounted for 13 percent of French exports by value. They generated a 11.9 billion euro trade surplus, driven by wine, cereals and dairy sales. It is the second largest trade surplus after aeronautics.
Sources: French agriculture and food ministry, French budget ministry, customs data, EU statistics office Eurostat, European Commission.
(Compiled by Valerie Parent and Axelle du Crest; editing by Keiron Henderson)