What ÖPUL stands for
The Agri-environmental Programme ÖPUL, Austria’s programme for the promotion of an agriculture which is appropriate to the environment, extensive and protective of natural habitats, is intended to foster the environmentally sound management of the agricultural areas in Austria. As early as in 1995 Austria decided to choose an approach which offers a horizontal and integral national agri-environmental programme with a broad spectre of measures. The objective pursued is the participation of Austrian farmers all over the country.
The legal basis of the programme is a national Special Ordinance which is implemented on a private administration basis. This Special Ordinance defines the general and specific eligibility criteria for measures.
ÖPUL 2015: the Agri-environmental Programme until 2020
The Agri-environmental Programme ÖPUL 2015 is part of the Austrian Rural Development Programme for the 2014 to 2020 period (LE 14-20). ÖPUL 2015 is the national implementation of four measures of the LE 14-20: the Agri-environment-climate measure (Art. 28), Organic farming (Art. 29), animal welfare (Art. 33) and the Natura 2000 and Water Framework Directive payments measure (Art. 30 of EU-Reg. 1305/2013). ÖPUL 2015 is a key instrument of the agricultural policy and the rural development in Austria. In all, twenty-four sub-measures are offered, most of them all over Austria. Some measures – especially in the context of water-protection – have a regional focus and therefore are only offered in specific regions.
Objectives of ÖPUL 2015
At present, Austrian agriculture must reconcile the conflicting demands of a competitive production on globalised agricultural markets on the one hand and the demands which society places in an ecologically sustainable production on the other hand. In accordance with the Common Agricultural Policy of the European Union the focus of the Austrian agricultural policy is on safeguarding the environmental performance of agriculture for the long term. The measures offered under ÖPUL aim at counteracting the two essential trends in Austrian land management: Abandonment of utilisation and intensified utilisation. By means of ÖPUL 2015, farmers are compensated for additional environmental services they provide by participating in the Programme.
In line with the objectives of LE 14-20, ÖPUL 2015 serves the following targets:
- Protecting, maintaining and enhancing biological diversity, also in Natura 2000 areas and in areas that are less-favoured due to natural constraints or other, specific constraints, land management with a high natural value as well as the state of the European landscapes
- Improving water management, including the use of fertilisers and pesticides
- Preventing soil erosion and improving soil management
- Reduction of greenhouse gas and ammonia emissions from agriculture and promotion of carbon storage and carbon sequestration in agriculture and forestry
- Promotion of the innovation, the cooperation and the development of the knowledge base in rural areas
Taking everything into account, ÖPUL 2015 therefore does not only serve the maintenance of area-wide agriculture and of cultivated landscapes, but also promotes the sustainable development of rural areas and responds to the growing social demand for environmental services. ÖPUL 2015 is at about 50 % financed from EU funds and at about 50 % from national funds (60 %Federal Government and 40 % Provinces). An amount of altogether EUR 455 million annually is intended for ÖPUL 2015; of this amount, EUR 112 million annually are dedicated to the measure Organic farming.
Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management
Directorate II/3 - Agri-Environment (ÖPUL), Mountain Farmers and Less-Favoured Areas, Organic Farming
Stubenring 1, A-1012 Vienna
Phone: (+43 1) 71100 - 5796