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.
Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management
(BMLFUW, Bundesministerium fuer Land- und Forstwirtschaft, Umwelt und
exercises a central role in planning, controlling and supporting the
extension services. The Austria-wide focuses and programmes of
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
Focuses of Extension Services
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
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.
Figure 1: Organization of Public Agricultural
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:
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
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:
University College for Agrarian and Environmental Pedagogy Vienna, www.agrarhochschule.at
The University of Agricultural and Environmental Teacher Training does:
University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences, www.boku.ac.at
Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management www.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.