Die Bodenkultur - Journal for Land Management, Food and Environment

W. Schneeberger, M. Schachner and L. Kirner:

Reasons for Opting out of the Organic Farming Scheme in Austria


The development of the number of organic farms is closely related to the direct payments offered. Corresponding to changes in government policy, three periods can be distinguished: no general direct payments, direct payments in the period between 1992 and 1994 and payments within the agri-environmental programme (ÖPUL). In April 1999, the last year of the 5-year contract period of the first agri-environmental programme, a written survey revealed that 35 % of the respondents had not yet decided to extend their participation in the programme. The reasons for opting out of the organic farming scheme were also asked. In the present study, the reasons for opting out, depending on the year of conversion (three above mentioned periods), and differences in the farm characteristics between all organic farms and those which considered opting out are analysed. The primary reasons for opting out were related to economic issues. Long-term organic farmers were less likely to opt out than later converters. On average, those who may opt out of the organic farming scheme managed smaller farms, the share of crop land was lower and the milk production level per cow was higher than on those farms who had decided to remain in the scheme.

Key words: Organic farming, organic agriculture, development in Austria, reasons for leaving organic production.