For the purposes of the agricultural census, an agricultural holding is defined as a production unit fulfilling the following three criteria :
- it produces agricultural products ;
- its day-to-day management is independent ;
- it is above a certain threshold in terms of surface area, production or number of animals.
This threshold has been defined as follows :
- a utilised agricultural area at least equal to one hectare ;
- or an area of specialised crops at least equal to 20 ares ;
- or sufficient agricultural production activity, estimated in terms of livestock, cultivated area or production volume.
The scope covered by the agricultural census is different from that of subscribers to the Agricultural Social Mutual Fund and from that of the National Register of Enterprises and their Establishments (SIRENE).