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Research article2003Peer reviewed

Growing out of the niche - can organic agriculture keep its promises? A study of a two Austrian cases

Milestad R, Hadatsch S


The expansion of organic farming has taken off in the European Union and particularly in Austria, where 9% of farmland is certified organic. The main reasons for this development are subsidies and cooperation with supermarket chains. In Austria, many organic farms are located in the mountainous areas, while lowlands with arable cropping have fewer organic farms than the national average. Exploring two regions as case studies, this paper investigates whether the organic farming movement can keep its promises of environmental safety, economic viability and social justice. There is a high level of environmental concern among those who practice organic farming, but local differences are large. It is the individual farmer who determines whether environmental issues beyond the official organic regulations are considered. The economic situation for organic farms is positive due to the financial support from the government and cooperation with supermarket chains, but processing and marketing operations are still lacking for organic products. Regarding social justice, organic farming enjoys a high esteem among consumers, but relations and cooperation between organic and conventional farm sectors is poor. We conclude that it is crucial for the organic movement to focus on qualitative issues rather than quantitative expansion for further sound development of organic farming in Austria

Published in

American Journal of Alternative Agriculture
2003, Volume: 18, number: 3, pages: 155-163

      SLU Authors

    • Milestad, Rebecka

      • Department of Rural Development and Agroecology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Economics and Business
    Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use
    Agricultural Science

    Publication identifier


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