The Distinctive Characteristics of Austrian Agriculture

The Distinctive Characteristics of Austrian Agriculture

The Austrian agricultural landscape is quite different from the Ukrainian one. Being a small country in comparison to Ukraine and having 2/3 of the area covered by mountains the structure of Austrian agriculture is of course a different one. Let's see about it in detail.

The average size of an Austrian farm is 45,7 ha. Farming in Austria is more than producing agricultural products. The important pillars for farming in Austria are tradition, quality and regionality. Farming in Austria is one of the important factors for regional development and rural development.
• Austria in 2016 had 161,200 agricultural and forestry holdings, while in 1951 there were 433,000 farms with a much smaller average size of 18.8 ha. There is still a decline in numbers of farms but it has slowed down since Austria’s accession to the EU in 1995 and particularly in the last years.
• About 36% of all farms in Austria are mountain farms, which means that working on those farms is quite difficult because of steep meadows which sometimes do not allow farmers to use tractors or harvesting machines. The average size of a farm in the mountainous west of Austria, for example in Tyrol, is 27.5 ha, much smaller than the overall average farm size – and definitely no comparison to Ukrainian average farm sizes.
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• Due to the distinctive characteristics of Austrian landscape, about 60% of Austria's utilized agricultural area is grassland - and therefore cattle farming and milk production are the major lines of production. This is also the main source of income for farmers. Approximately 60,500 farms keep about 2 million cattle – on average, 24 cows per farm.
• In Austria 90% of all farms are run by families. For 36% of them, farming is the only source of income for the family, for 54% of those family farms the income from farming is not sufficient and therefore they do farming only as an additional source of income. Some 10% of farms are in the hands of companies.
• 36% of all farms are run by women. And, by the way, the new Austrian minister for sustainability, responsible for agriculture, fisheries, forestry, water management, environment and tourism, is also a woman, Mrs. Elisabeth Köstinger!
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• Tourism, an important source of income in Austria and especially in the so called disadvantaged areas like the mountains, would not be so successful had the landscape not been kept as a nice cultivated landscape. Landscape would look quite different if not for grasslands around the farms in the mountain valleys, otherwise alpine pastures would turn into forests. Cattle, sheep and goat breeding preserves the grassland, so meat and dairy are the main products of mountain farms. To keep the landscape attractive to tourists, it is necessary to provide farmers in the mountains with enough support to continue farming and by doing that to preserve the nice landscape.
• Farmers produce high-quality foodstuffs. More and more people in Austria buy regional products for environmental reasons.
Photo source: All images belong to their rightful authors.

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