Agricultural land in 1998 comprised 902,000 ha (2,229,000 acres), or about 3% of the country's total land (excluding Svalbard and Jan Mayen). While the area under wheat and mixed grains has dropped sharply since 1949, that for rye, oats, and barley has more than doubled. The greater part of these crops is used to supplement potatoes and hay in the feeding of livestock. In 2002, the area planted with barley, oats, rye, and triticale covered 80% of all the 18,415 holdings for grains and oilseeds. Grain production utilized 320,600 ha (792,200 acres) in 2002.
Although the proportion of larger farms has been increasing, most farms in 1990 were still small, with about 99% of the 84,635 farm holdings (including meadows) consisting of less than 50 ha (124 acres) of arable land. Because of the small size of the holdings, many farm families pursue additional occupations, mainly in forestry, fishing, and handicrafts. Yields in 2001 included 1,203,000 tons of grain (51% barley, 28% oats, 21% wheat) and 388,200 tons of potatoes. Østfold county accounted for 21% of Norway's grain production in 2001; Hedmark county for 34% of potato production that year. Norway imports most of its grain and large quantities of its fruits and vegetables.
With steep slopes and heavy precipitation, Norway requires substantial quantities of fertilizers to counteract soil leaching. Smallholders and those in marginal farming areas in the north and in the mountains receive considerable government assistance for the purchase of fertilizers. Mechanization of agriculture is developing rapidly. In 1998, Norwegian farmers used 148,000 tractors and 16,000 combines.
Since 1928, the state has subsidized Norwegian grain production; a state monopoly over the import of grains maintains the price of Norwegian-grown grains. The Ministry of Agriculture has divisions dealing with agricultural education, economics, and other aspects. Each county has an agricultural society headed by a government official. These societies, financed half by the district and half by the state, implement government schemes for improving agricultural practices.