Facts on Agriculture
Agriculture plays an important role for Austria's economy going far beyond the production of food. While the share of the agricultural production is less than 1.5 % of the GDP, the Austrian farmers provide services that have a positive impact on other industries. From being a substantial contributor to the high share of renewable energy (over 30%) in Austria, over providing service to the environment all the way to landscape management in the alpine regions, the Austria farmer is a role model for the multifunctional aspect of agriculture. These additional services rendered by the Austrian farmers are necessary, considering that the average farm size of 45 acres reduces competitiveness.
Seventy percent of the countryside is covered by mountains and Austria’s tourism industry is making use of those topographic conditions. The tourism sector has been growing continuously and today it accounts for more than six percent of Austria’s GDP. But it is not only winter skiing that gives this “Land of Mountains” (name of the National Anthem) the third highest per capita income from tourism in the European Union. Additionally, the lush and picturesque alpine pastures, which we all remember from the famous musical “The Sound of Music”, attracts over 31 million tourists every year.
To maintain the lush pastures in the summer and ski slopes in the winter, farming in mountainous areas is of key importance. Two thirds of Austria’s 165,000 farms are located in the alpine mountains, where rearing cattle or sheep are most popular. While producing dairy products and beef, the Austrian “mountain” farmers also take over the task of maintaining and preserving the pastures of the Alps.
While mountain farming is popular in the west, the east provides ideal conditions for arable farming. The mix of the continental climate and the influence of the Pannonia, which provide cold and wet winters, but especially hot dry summer days and cool nights are ideal for corn, cereals like wheat, barley and rye, as well as sugar beets, rapeseed and sunflower. In recent years, Austria has emerged as the second biggest soybean producer in the European Union. Pig and poultry production are also popular in the arable regions of Austria. Last but not least, it is necessary to point out that Austria is responsible for one percent of the global wine production. The flagship wine of Austria with 37 percent of its vineyards is the Gruener Veltliner.
For more information please also visit the Austrian Ministry of Life.