Archive:Agricultural census in Austria
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This article is part of a series of country-specific essays on the results of the European Union (EU) Farm structure survey (FSS) 2010. The FSS collects information on the structural characteristics of agricultural holdings (land use, livestock and labour force) and is carried out every 10 years as an Agricultural census by all the EU Member States, with two or three additional, intermediate sample surveys carried out in-between. The present analysis of Austrian farm structure includes a comparison with the previous (2000) Agricultural census. Although the reference years of the Agricultural census in Austria were 1999 and 2010 respectively, the common designation is Agricultural census 2000 and 2010.
Main statistical findings
According to the FSS 2010, there were 150 170 agricultural holdings in Austria. Compared with the FSS 2000, when 199 470 holdings were recorded, one fourth of Austrian holdings ceased their activity (- 49 300).
The utilised agricultural area (UAA) also decreased (-15.1 %) over the inter-census timeframe, and in 2010 it fell below the 3 million ha threshold. In absolute terms, about 3.4 million hectares of agricultural land were recorded in 2000 while only 2.9 million were left in 2010 (-510 060 hectares). As a result, in Austria the agricultural area covered about one third of the territory of the whole country in 2010; this is below the EU average and can be explained by the predominantly mountainous terrain.
As the decrease in the number of holdings was sharper than the decrease in the agricultural land area, the average area per farm increased (+ 13 %) – from 17 hectares per farm in 2000 to 19 ha per holding in 2010. This tendency was commonly observed among the EU-27 and suggests that smaller holdings were acquired by larger holdings during the decade under analysis.
Between 2000 and 2010, the number of persons regularly working in agriculture fell by one third. In absolute terms, about 180 000 persons left the agricultural sector over the inter-census time-frame, resulting in a remaining regular workforce of 346 260 persons in 2010. Hence, in 2010 the Austrian agricultural labour force represented 8.0 % of the active population.
In Austria, the livestock population – expressed in livestock units (LSU) – reached 2.5 million in 2010, a decrease of 6 % compared to the FSS 2000; in absolute terms, the Austrian population of farm animals dropped by about 157 000 LSU.
Regional key indicators
The regional analysis presented in Table 2 provides an insight into the local characteristics of Austrian agriculture and highlights the peculiarity of its structure, where three regions play a leading role. Indeed, for each of the key indicators analysed (number of holdings, total UAA, livestock population and number of persons working on the farms), the territories of Niederösterreich, Steiermark and Oberösterreich recorded the highest values and together accounted for over 60 % of the national total.
On the other hand, the capital region of Wien plays only a marginal role in the country’s agricultural economy, as for each of the key indicators its shares are below 1 %. The sharpest decline in agricultural activity was recorded in Burgenland; in this region, the number of holdings and the agricultural workforce declined by about 50 %.
Niederösterreich was the leading region in terms of the number of holdings and UAA. There were 36 460 holdings (24.3 % of the total) farming 911 680 ha of UAA in this region in 2010, almost a third of the total area. The region also accounted for 23.6 % of Austria’s livestock population (593 040 LSU) and 23.3 % of the regular labour force.
Oberösterreich had by far the greatest livestock population, at 768 450 LSU or 30.5% of Austria’s total livestock population in 2010. The region also had the second largest UAA, 529 460 ha or 18.4 % of the total UAA, and a large number of holdings in general (30 030 holdings; 20.0 %).
The third important region in 2010 was Steiermark, whose 33 820 holdings (22.5 %) managed an utilised agricultural area of 407 260 ha (14.1 %) and a livestock population of 547 370 LSU (21.7 %) in 2010. The remaining six regions shared significantly lower portions of the key indicators in 2010.
About half (49 %) of Austrian farms had less than 10 hectares of agricultural land in 2010: these farms covered 311 940 hectares of agricultural area and accounted for 11 % of the whole Austrian UAA. On the other hand, 76 130 farms (51 %) recorded 10 hectares or more of UAA and accounted for 89 % of the Austrian UAA (2 566 220 ha) in 2010.
Agricultural holdings with 10 to 19.9 hectares of UAA (see Figure 1) were the most common at 22 % of all farms (32 590). Holdings with 2 to 4.9 hectares of agricultural land were also significant (30 220) in 2010, as they represented 20 % of all farms, a share similar to that recorded by holdings with 5 to 9.9 hectares of agricultural area (18 %).
In Austria, the decrease in the number of holdings affected all the categories of holdings, with the exception of farms with 30 to 49.9 hectares and those with 50 to 99.9 ha of agricultural land. In particular, within the inter-census decade, the latter class of farms recorded significant growth (+ 41 %), while the number of holdings with 30 to 49.9 ha of UAA only increased by 6 %.
Economic size of the farm
As shown in Table 3, the economic size of all Austrian agricultural holdings reached a value of EUR 5 879 million in 2010. This value, which is calculated by summing up the standard outputs (SO) per hectare of crop and per head of livestock of the farms, represented a 13.1 % increase compared to 2007; within the EU, Greece (EUR 6 700 million) and Hungary (EUR 5 241 million) recorded similar values in 2010.
Agricultural holdings with an economic size of EUR 50 000 to 99 999 and of EUR 100 000 to 250 000 were found to be the most significant in 2010: together they accounted for more than half (53 %) of Austrian economic output from agriculture in 2010. Compared to the FSS 2007, both classes of farms recorded an increase – +15 % and +17 % respectively – though holdings of EUR 250 000 to 500 000 recorded the highest growth (+ 42.2 %). Farm classes below the EUR 50 000 threshold all experienced a decrease, while all those above recorded an increase.
The territorial analysis of the economic output of farms confirms the leading role played by the regions of Niederösterreich, Steiermark and Oberösterreich: together they accounted for 76 % of Austrian standard output in 2010. In particular, Niederösterreich recorded the highest share (32 %), followed by Oberösterreich (24 %) and Steiermark (21 %).
See detailed data at NUTS 2 level for 2010 and 2007
Agricultural holding by main type of farming
In terms of the main type of farming, holdings specialised in dairying were the most common in Austria: as shown in Figure 2, they represented 18.8 % of the total population of farms in 2010. The second highest share was recorded by farms specialised in general field cropping (16.4 %). Holdings dedicated to cattle-rearing and fattening (10.8 %), those specialised in sheep, goats and other grazing livestock (10.5 %) and farms dedicated to cattle-dairying, rearing and fattening combined (9.9 %) recorded very similar values.
If the economic size of the holdings is taken into account, the ranking takes on a different perspective, though farms specialised in dairying (22.2%) maintain their prevalence within the structure of Austrian agriculture. Holdings specialised in pigs recorded the second highest share (18.3 %; while only accounting for 4.6 % of the holdings), followed by farms dedicated to vineyards (11.6 %) and those dedicated to general field cropping (7.6 %; while accounting for 16.4 % of the holdings).
See detailed data at NUTS 2 level for 2010
The Utilised Agricultural Area (UAA) is the total area – taken up by arable land, permanent grassland and meadow, permanent crops and kitchen gardens – used by the holding, regardless of the type of tenure or whether it is used as a part of common land.
In Austria, the UAA is essentially made up of arable land and permanent grassland and meadow: together these two components accounted for 98 % of the country’s agricultural area in 2010. Compared to 2000, arable land increased its share in the total (from 41.2 % to 47.6 %), although in absolute terms it decreased by about 24 000 hectares. In contrast, the relative weight of permanent grassland and meadow decreased, from 56.6 % to 50 % (-500 000 hectares in absolute terms).
See detailed data at NUTS 2 level for 2010
In 2010, arable land was taken up by cereals, fodder crops and industrial crops. Cereals covered the widest area (814 800 hectares) and accounted for 28.3 % of the entire Austrian UAA. Fodder crops covered 246 670 hectares – 8.6 % of the country’s UAA – while industrial crops accounted for 5.3 %. Overall, the distribution remained nearly the same as in 2000, save for an increase in fodder crops of 20.4 % and a decrease in the fallow land area of 60.4 %.
See detailed data at NUTS 2 level for 2010
Permanent grassland and meadow
Despite decreasing by about 500 000 hectares during the inter-census decade, the land dedicated to permanent grassland and meadow represented half of the Austrian agricultural area in 2010. In particular, in absolute terms the area dedicated to pasture and meadow decreased marginally (-76 000 ha) while actually increasing its share in total UAA, from 28.4 % to 30.8 %. In contrast, the area dedicated to rough grazing dropped by 404 490 hectares to 549 520 hectares in 2010 (19.1 % of the country’s UAA).
This decrease in the area of rough grazing is partially the result of improved topographical surveying in the alpine regions, allowing better distinction of areas unfit for agricultural use from the actual rough grazing areas. The extent of this phenomenon is hard to quantify. This has to be kept in mind when analysing land use figures over time, as 2010 values may not be comparable to those from earlier years.
See detailed data at NUTS 2 level for 2010
Statistics on livestock can be measured in livestock units (LSU) or number of head (number of animals), with the LSU allowing comparison between different types of livestock.
In Austria, the number of livestock (measured in LSU) decreased by 5.9 % over the inter-census period, to reach 2.5 million LSU in 2010; among the EU Member States, Hungary (2.5 million LSU) and Greece (2.4 Million LSU) recorded similar values.
Cattle were by far the most common type of livestock, accounting for 57 % of the total population of farm animals in 2010. In absolute terms, 1.4 million LSU of cattle were recorded, an 8.3 % fall compared with 2000. Pigs also recorded a significant share, accounting for about one third of the total population of farm animals in 2010: in absolute terms, their value dropped over the years, from 858 690 LSU to 792 120 LSU.
In Austria the number of livestock per inhabitant dropped, from 0.33 in 2000 to 0.30 in 2010. This was the combined effect of an increase in the population (+ 4.7 %) and a fall in the number of livestock (- 5.9 %). As the decrease in the number of holdings with livestock (-23.4 %) was almost the same as the fall in the total population of farms (-24.7 %), the share of holdings with livestock in the population of farms did not change much: it went from 70 % in 2000 to 71 % in 2010.
In a similar fashion as in most other EU Member States, the decrease in the number of holdings in Austria was observed mainly for farms with few LSU, particularly for holdings with less than 50 LSU.
As mentioned above, the regions of Niederösterreich, Steiermark and Oberösterreich together accounted for 76 % of the Austrian population of farm animals in 2010.
See detailed data at Nuts 2 level for 2010 and 2000
In Austria, the agricultural labour force dropped by 34.2 % over the 2000-2010 timeframe: while 525 950 persons were regularly working in agriculture in 2000, only 346 260 were left in 2010. As shown in Table 6, the decrease was even sharper (-38.05 %) in terms of the annual work unit (AWU), with figures dropping from 179 460 AWU in 2000 to 111 180 AWU in 2010.
A regional analysis of the agricultural labour force confirms the importance of Niederösterreich, Steiermark and Oberösterreich within the structure of Austrian agriculture: about 23 % of persons regularly working on farms were registered within the territory of Niederösterreich; 22 % in Steiermark; and 21 % in Oberösterreich.
See detailed data at NUTS 2 level on holders' age and gender for 2010 and 2000
In terms of sole holders, the gender gap showed signs of a decrease over the period under analysis: 69 % of sole holders in Austria were male in 2000, while in 2010 the share was 66 %, one of the lowest values among the surveyed countries.
See detailed data at NUTS 2 level on type of labour force for 2010 and 2000
Type of tenure
In 2010, the vast majority of the Austrian agricultural area (64.5 %) belonged to the farmers who actually worked on that land (see Table 7). Another significant share of agricultural land (31 %) was farmed by tenants, while the portion of land utilised in partnership by the landlord and the sharecropper under a written or oral share-farming contract was marginal (4.6 %). In Austria, this category applies mainly to areas that are entrusted to the farmer for agricultural use free of charge (without paying rent).
According to the FSS 2010, there were 71 940 holdings farming about 2 million head of cattle in Austria. Most of these farms (70.1 %) housed cattle in stanchion tied stable with solid dung and liquid manure. The type of housing where animals are loose with solid dung and liquid manure was also very common, as it was recorded in 39.4 % of farms and accounted for 586 710 places (29 %).
As in many other EU Member States, in Austria the total number of places (2 386 850) exceeded the number of head of cattle. Accordingly, the hosting capacity of the country was not fully exploited in 2010, which explains why the related percentage was more than 100.
Other gainful activities
According to data from the Agricultural census 2010, more than 1 out of 3 holdings in Austria had other gainful activities, corresponding to 56 070 holdings. The diversification of activities on farms generally leads to an extra source of income for the agricultural holdings. In Austria, the percentage of farms with other gainful activities is among the highest in the EU.
As many Austrian holdings include forest land, forestry work was the most common source of extra income in 2010 (see Table 9) – it was recorded on 39 310 farms. However, it must be noted that the previous waves of the FSS in Austria recorded agricultural and forestry activities together. In contrast, agricultural and forestry activities were recorded separately under the FSS 2010, which led to a break in time series.
See detailed data at NUTS 2 level for 2000
Organic agriculture is an ecological production management system that promotes and enhances biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity. It is based on the minimal use of off-farm inputs and on management practices that restore, maintain or enhance ecological harmony.
With 19 190 holdings practising organic farming (see Table 10), Austria was among the EU Member States with the highest number of farms dedicated to this ecological production system in 2010. In relative terms, the land dedicated to organic farming covered 12.3 % of Austrian agricultural land, the highest share within the EU-27.
Data sources and availability
In Austria, the first complete survey on agricultural and forestry holdings was conducted in 1902. The first Farm Structure Survey based on a random sample was carried on in 1993 and two years later the questionnaire was completely harmonised with the EU list of characteristics. Since then, Austria has conducted the FSS in compliance with the EU regulations. Statistics Austria was the responsible body for implementing the FSS 2010.
Survey on agricultural production methods (SAPM)
In 2010 a unique survey was carried out together with the Agricultural census: the Survey on agricultural productions methods (SAPM). This survey collected data at regional level needed to establish agri-environmental indicators as indicated in COM final 508/2006 and to evaluate the greening of the Common agricultural policy.
Data were collected according to specifications listed in Annex V of regulation 1166/2008, namely data on tillage methods, soil conservation, landscape features, animal grazing, animal housing, manure application, manure storage and treatment facilities and irrigation.
In Austria, the SAPM was conducted as an exhaustive survey together with the Agricultural census.
Data for the Agricultural census 2010 were collected with reference to the 31st of October 2010, with the exception of information on livestock which was collected with reference to the 1st of April 2010. In addition, the data on land use, labour force, other gainful activities and agricultural production methods were collected with reference to the 1st of November 2009 – 31st of October 2010 time-frame.
Threshold for agricultural holdings
In Austria, both the FSS and the SAPM targeted all agricultural holdings with at least 1 hectare of agricultural area. In addition, farms with at least 0.15 ha of intensively utilised fruit orchards, or 0.1 hectares of land dedicated to the production of berries, strawberries, vegetables, hops, flowers or decorative plants, were also surveyed.
The thresholds set in 1995, following Austria’s accession to the EU, have been kept unchanged. Thus, they are compliant with the EU Regulation 1166/2008 and allow comparison between the FSS 2010 and previous waves.
Common land is land that does not directly belong to any agricultural holding but on which common rights apply. It can consist of pasture, horticultural or other land. The treatment of the common land used by an agricultural holding might differ from country to country.
In Austria, common land belongs to Agrarian communities, which are associations of real estate property owners who have common rights over a piece of land. In 2010, common land was included in special agricultural holdings – this methodology was also used in the previous waves of the FSS. Generally, the agricultural area on which common rights apply consists of grassland and it is farmed by the members of the agrarian community.
In Austria, the share of UAA designated as common land is fairly significant: 252 872 ha or 8.8 % of the country’s total UAA in 2 715 holdings. As the agrarian communities managing these areas own no livestock of their own (the livestock is in the possession of the individual members of the Agrarian communities), these holdings are designated as “General field cropping”, although their UAA mainly consists of grazing area. This issue should be kept in mind when interpreting the classification of farms by farming main types.
Geo-reference of the holding
In Austria, information on the location of the holdings was collected by the National Statistical Institute through the use of administrative sources, i.e. the Address-Building and the Dwellings Register (ABDR). Once obtained, the coordinates were rounded to prevent the identification of single units.
From FSS 2007 onward, the Standard output (SO), a new classification of the economic size of the holding, is used. The SO has replaced the Standard gross margin (SGM) used before. Nonetheless, for comparability reasons, both classifications are available in FSS 2007.
European Commission Rural development policy aims to improve competitiveness in agriculture and forestry, the environment and the countryside, as well as to improve the quality of life in rural areas, and to encourage the diversification of rural economies.
As agriculture has been modernised and the importance of industry and services within the economy has increased, agriculture has become much less important as a source of jobs. Consequently, increasing emphasis is placed on the role farmers can play in rural development, including forestry, biodiversity and the diversification of the rural economy, in order to create alternative jobs and provide environmental protection in rural areas.
The FSS continues to adapt in order to provide timely and relevant data to help analyse and follow these developments.
- Agricultural census 2010
- All articles on Austria
- All farm structure articles by country
- Farm structure statistics
Further Eurostat information
- Agriculture, fishery and forestry statistics — Main results – 2010-11 - 2012 edition
- Farm Structure Survey in Austria - 2007 - Issue number 89/2009
- Farm Structure in Austria - 2005 - Issue number 11/2007
- Structure of Agricultural Holdings - Austria 2003 - Statistics in focus 36/2005
- Agriculture, see:
- Farm structure: historical data (1990-2007) (t_ef)
- Agriculture, see:
- Farm structure (ef)
Methodology / Metadata
- Farm structure (ESMS metadata file — ef_esms)
Source data for tables and figures (MS Excel)
- Regulation 1166/2008 of 19 November 2008 on farm structure surveys and the survey on agricultural production methods and repealing Council Regulation 571/88
- Regulation 1200/2009 of 30 November 2009 implementing Regulation 1166/2008 on farm structure surveys and the survey on agricultural production methods, as regards livestock unit coefficients and definitions of the characteristics
- A value calculated over the active population in the 4th quarter 2010 of the EU Labour force survey (LFS) Population, activity and inactivity - quarterly data
- More information is available in the National Methodological Report, at page 13