austriaAgricultural and Forestry Advice and Extension Services

Organisation

In Austria it is mainly the Chambers of Agriculture that offer agricultural and forestry advice and consulting (“official extension services”). In addition, there are further public and private educational offer.

The Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management (BMLFUW, Bundesministerium fuer Land- und Forstwirtschaft, Umwelt und Wasserwirtschaft) exercises a central role in planning, controlling and supporting the official extension services. The Austria-wide focuses and programmes of consulting are agreed upon in co-operation with the Chambers of Agriculture. Please refer to Figure 1. 

With approximately 550 advisors, the nine Chambers of Agriculture and their district farmers’ chambers (Bezirksbauernkammern) represent the most important sources of agriculture and forestry extension services.

Advisors are trained at the University of Agricultural and Environmental Teacher Training. Completion of Study is Bachelor of Education (BEd)

Aims and Contents

The task of consulting is to offer farmers assistance in all entrepreneurial problems as well as processes of change. Advice supplements education. It always refers to current and concrete company-related issues and facilitates the transfer of knowledge from research to practice.

Following is a list of the most important consulting goals

  • Encouraging entrepreneurial activities to improve business success
  • Further development of agricultural enterprises into competitive unites through optimising branches and production processes, diversification as well as inter-company and supra-company co-operation
  • Fostering of sustainable and environmentally compatible agricultural practices
  • Use of production methods to protect natural habitats
  • Improvement of communication between producers, trade, and consumers
  • Production and marketing of high-quality agricultural products
  • Improvement of working and living conditions
  • Production of renewable resources and energy
  • Sustainable forest development
  • Personality development

 Focuses of Extension Services

  • Company development and business management
  • Low-cost and appropriate stable construction
  • Inner and non-agrarian occupational combination
  • Food quality and nutrition
  • Renewable energy
  • Marketing
  • Organic farming
  • Plant production
  • Animal production
  • Legal, tax and social security issues
  • Information and advice on subsidies
  • Near-natural forest cultivation, etc.

Methods of Advice and Consulting

Depending on the nature of the problem, various different methods of advice are used; single, group and project advice, working group advice, further education, information, communication in printed or electronic form, technical excursions, exhibits, and fairs.

Working group advice

Working groups are a special form of participant-centred group advice and have been an important method of Austria-wide consulting since 1995. Under the direction of specially trained advisors, 15 to 20 farmers with the same production focus join to form a working group existing over several years. Detailed records are an important prerequisite.

The goal is to optimise production and improve the profitability of business branches and/or the entire enterprise. Services offered include production-technology and economic evaluation, comparison of key figures with those of other enterprises, analyses of strengths and weaknesses on the basis of special on-the-spot consulting, planning of improvement measures and guidance through their implementation, exchange of experience and targeted measures of further education.

Since the beginning in 1995 farmers took advantage in working groups of this offer of consulting services. There are working groups on different production fields (e.g. dairy production, cattle feeding, keeping of suckler cows, cash cropping, pig farming, and company management).

Financing of Official Agricultural Extension Services

  • Advice and consulting by the Chambers of Agriculture is mainly free of charge for farmers. Membership fees are levied for working group advice; fees are also levied for special consulting offers.
  • Financing is provided through the Chamber of Agriculture’s compulsory membership fees as well as means of the BMLFUW and the Austrian Provinces.
  • The legal basis for subsidies by the BMLFUW is the “advisor contract”. It is concluded between the BMLFUW and the Chambers of Agriculture for a period of four years and specifies the services to be rendered. An electronic record of performance serves as proof and controlling instrument.
  • A great number of advisory and educational projects are subsidised through EU co- financed programmes (“rural development”).
  • The legal basis for forest advice subsidies is the Forest Act.

Note: 

The “advisor contract” is established between the BMLFUW and the Chambers of Agriculture 
for a period of four years and specifies the services to be rendered. An electronic record of performance serves as proof and controlling instrument. Furthermore, a great number of 
advisory and educational projects are subsidised through district government or through 
EU co- financed programmes (“rural development”). The subsidy from BMLFUW is only a 
quarter from the total. This also means that there are many more advisors.
 

Additional Offers of Advice

In addition to the above described official agricultural extension services, other public and private institutions offer consulting services for farmers and/or support for the official agricultural extension services. For Example:

Adult Education

Agricultural extension is supplemented by a strong adult education. Comprehensive education and occupational qualifications form an important basis of economic, social, and societal security for the individual as well as for the development of rural areas. With its target-group-specific educational offer, the rural adult education institution of the Chambers of Agriculture, (Ländliches Fortbildungsinstitut – LFI), offers the widest adult education programme in rural areas, thus contributing significantly to lifelong learning. www.lfi.at

Agricultural Education, Training and Research Institutions

Secondary colleges of agriculture and forestry, www.hlfs.schule.at

Secondary colleges of agriculture and forestry are vocational upper secondary schools and pursue the following legally established educational goals for their attendants:

  • greater general knowledge
  • greater technical knowledge, enabling
  • graduates to carry out higher-level activities in agriculture and forestry
  • general university admission certificate

University College for Agrarian and Environmental Pedagogy Vienna,www.agrarhochschule.at

  • The University of Agricultural and Environmental Teacher Training does:
  • Training, add-on and further education in agricultural pedagogical professional fields
  • Training, add-on and further education in the professional fields of environmental pedagogy
  • Professional-field-related research and development
  • Adult education in pedagogical professions

University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences, www.boku.ac.at

The University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences (BOKU), Vienna, is Austria’s only university dedicating itself to agricultural subjects.

Research Institutions


Contacts

Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Managementwww.lebensministerium.at

Chambers of Agriculture, www.lk-oe.at

The general and specific tasks of the BMLFUW are defined in the Federal Ministries Act (Bundesministeriengesetz—BMG). The Rules of Procedure of the Ministry of Life inform about the different tasks of the Departments and their Divisions.

Source: Ulrike Raser 

Abteilung II/2, Schule, Erwachsenenbildung und Beratung
Stubenring 1, 1010 Wien

 

List of Extension Providers

icon target The following list shows an excerpt from the GFRAS Directory of Extension Providers for Austria. Some of these entries may be specially marked for having more detailed information in the database of the Worldwide Extension Study WWES.