Agriculture makes up the smallest sector in the Czech economy, contributing about 5 percent of the total GDP. In 1997 the agricultural sector employed 5.6 percent of the labor force , or roughly 200,000 people. This number was just 39 percent of the number of people employed in this sector under communist rule. The primary agricultural products were sugarbeets, fodder roots for animal feed, potatoes, wheat, hops, fruit, pigs, cattle, poultry, and forest products.
The Czech Republic has 3.1 million hectares of arable land, although roughly half of this land is not highly productive. Under the communist economic system, Czech agriculture was collectivized, meaning that small private farms were taken by the government in order to create state-owned cooperatives. After the end of communism in 1989, these cooperatives were transferred to private owners, often by the direct sale of the farm as a unit. However, some lands were also given back to their former owners. By 1999, 85 percent of agricultural lands were privately owned. Of this total, 40 percent are corporate farms, 34 percent are co-operatives, 24 percent are owned by individuals, and 2 percent are state owned.
Agricultural output decreased 28 percent between 1989 and 1998, with the greatest declines in livestock production. This reflects the overall decline of the agricultural sector in the Czech Republic, where more than half of all farms experience financial difficulties. Problems include the high costs of labor, machinery, fertilizer, and other agricultural inputs; the lack of modern technology; and low levels of state aid for agriculture.