Mountain Agriculture

 

Agricultural Development in the Alpine Arc

Beispiel
Agricultural enterprises in the Alpine Convention area between 1980 and 2000 vs. the development in the relevant countries (1: Old German Federal States, Data sources: German National Statistical Offices).
In 2000, around 287,000 agricultural enterprises, with a minimum utilised agricultural area of 1ha (as per EU standard), operated in the Alpine Convention area (see table on the right), with around 160,000 (-35.8%) enterprises having discontinued their operation in the two decades between 1980 and 2000. This decline is spread over the entire Alpine Convention area. Subject to various spatial, political, economic, societal and cultural framework conditions, the extent of this decline differs considerably on the regional level (see table below). A noticeable break exists between the German-speaking Alpine states (with the exception of Liechtenstein) and the Romanic and Slovenian Alpine regions.

Beispiel
Overview of the development of agricultural enterprises in the Alpine arc. The stability in the central part of the Alps is noticeable (Source: STREIFENEDER & RUFFINI (2007). Data sources: Agricultural surveys, different volumes, from Statistik Austria, Bundesamt für Statistik Schweiz, Bayrisches Landesamt für Statistik, Institut National de la Statistique et des Etudes Economiques (France), Istituto Nazionale di Statistica (Italia), Amt für Volkswirtschaft Liechtenstein, Statistical Office of the Republic of Slovenia.)

The Istituto Nazionale di Economia Agraria (INEA) called the abandonment of 72,600 farms (-43.8%) in the Italian Alps since 1980 a “revolutionary development” (INEA 2001 ). According to a ranking list of the NUTS-3 areas (Nomenclature des Unités Territoriales) with the highest abandonment rates, eight of ten areas are located in the Italian Alps (e.g. Vercelli: -84.7%, Varese: -70.6%). The farm abandonment rate in Slovenia is similarly high.

The Italian province Bozen-South Tyrol (-6.3%) plays a special role. Across the Alps, South Tyrol is one of the most stable regions. The reasons for this are the autonomous power of this province, the particular importance of the agricultural sector for the population and a law of succession that differs from that in the rest of the Italian Alps (inheritance of the first-born vs. physical partition).

Although the structural change in the French Alpine arc began much earlier and has therefore progressed much further (BLANCHARD 1956), the French Alps also recorded a decline of around 50%. In contrast, the development in the German-speaking Alpine regions is rather moderate. The Swiss Alps recorded a decline in farms of around 1/3 between 1980 and 2000, with the German and Austrian Alpine arc arriving at comparable rates. However, the small decline rates of farms in the German-speaking Alpine arc should by no means distract from the structural weaknesses that exist also in this region.

Between 1980 and 2000, the utilised agricultural area (UAA) declined by around 500,000 ha (-8.8%), a considerably small decline compared to the farm rate (see figure below). Italy (-18.7%) and Slovenia (-37.0%) recorded the largest decline in UAA. In the Slovenian part of the Alps, this decline may be explained only to a certain extent by definitional changes. A study confirms an increase in forest areas and brownfield sites (FRANCI 2002).

Beispiel
Development of utilised agricultural areas in the Alpine Convention area between 1980 and 2000 (LAU 2) ( Source: STREIFENEDER & RUFFINI (2007). Data sources: Agricultural surveys, different volumes, from Statistik Austria, Bundesamt für Statistik Schweiz, Bayrisches Landesamt für Statistik, Institut National de la Statistique et des Etudes Economiques (France), Istituto Nazionale di Statistica (Italia), Amt für Volkswirtschaft Liechtenstein, Statistical Office of the Republic of Slovenia.).

In France, the UAA increased even slightly (+1.1%), the reason being that pastures that were once cultivated by cooperatives are now owned by individual farms and were not included in earlier agricultural headcounts. Moreover, due to a change of the subsidisation policy (contributions for extensive husbandry), an extension of cultivation to formerly fallow or new farmland became appealing again ("prime au maintien des systèmes d´élevage extensifs"/PMSEE – grassland premium in France).

The fact that farm rates decline more markedly than the utilised agricultural area is also an indicator that the abandoned farmland is partly acquired by the remaining agricultural enterprises. Particularly in the Swiss Convention area, the utilised agricultural area remained practically unchanged. Across the Alps, mainly marginal productivity areas that face difficult production conditions became fallow (steeply sloped meadows).

This trend was recorded across the Alps and leads to an overall increase in the size of the remaining farms (see figure below). The average UAA cultivated per farm in the Alpine arc increased from 12.9 ha in 1990 to 18.5 ha in 2000. Compared to an average size of 18.7 ha UAA per farm in the EU-15 states in 2000, the current UAA size of 18.5 ha per farm in the Alpine arc corresponds to that figure.

Beispiel
Average UAA cultivated by farms in the Alpine Convention area between 1980 and 2000. Summering areas in Switzerland and alpine pastures in Bavaria were also considered. (Source: STREIFENEDER & RUFFINI (2007). Data sources: Agricultural surveys, different volumes, from Statistik Austria, Bundesamt für Statistik Schweiz, Bayrisches Landesamt für Statistik, Institut National de la Statistique et des Etudes Economiques (France), Istituto Nazionale di Statistica (Italia), Amt für Volkswirtschaft Liechtenstein, Statistical Office of the Republic of Slovenia.).
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