The Participation of Women in Farm Management in the Development of Sustainable Food Safety: Case Studies in Switzerland and Austria

Monday, July 14, 2014: 5:42 PM
Room: Booth 61
Oral Presentation
Yukiko OTOMO , Jumonji University, Niiza, Saitama, Japan
Hitomi NAKAMICHI , Faculty of Agriculture, Ehime University, Matsuyama, Ehime, Japan
Ruth ROSSIER , Forschungsanstalt Agroscope Reckenholz, Ettenhausen, Switzerland
Theresia OEDL-WIESER , Inst Less Favoured & Mountainous Areas, Vienna, Austria
Family-managed farms form the heart of Asian and European agriculture and are essential for the stable supply of safe food. In Japan women are deeply connected with food safety and consumption activities (Nakamichi, 2010). In Switzerland and Austria, women’s participation in farm management is also related to food safety. This paper examines specialized education for Swiss and Austrian women that encourages participation in farm management, which is in turn related to food safety.

In alpine Switzerland and Austria, Direct Payments support helps to maintain small-scale family farm management, and in particular, organic farming receives higher supports.

Austria has the highest percentage of organic farming (16.5%) among EU Member States, and in a semi-mountainous area of small-scale management, it is especially high. Direct Payments support is higher than the EU average, resulting from the unique Environmental Agriculture Policy (ÖPUL). In addition, women comprise 36% (2012) of farm managers, a high percentage within the EU.

Organic farming is carried out especially in mountainous regions of Switzerland, and farm incomes receive a high degree of direct support. In a semi-mountainous area of small-scale management, organic farming holds the highest percentage. Over 11% (2011) of farm households in Switzerland are organic, and among women managers, the figure shows higher.

Examples from Switzerland and Austria indicate that women play a large role in the stable supply and safety of food, but both countries traditionally favor sons for farm succession. Women are rarely trained as successors and usually enter farming by marrying farm successors, however both countries have well-established systems of vocational training for female successors. Some women trained in home economics have achieved Meister status as farm managers. Reforms in vocational education are encouraging more women farm successors, and the number of young women receiving specialized agricultural qualifications is increasing.