400 million relief and investment package for agriculture and forestry

In order to be able to guarantee our country‘s security of supply, both with food and with wood products, in the future, comprehensive agriculture and forestry are needed. At the same time, however, these areas face numerous challenges, such as climate change, lack of rainfall, pest infestation and declining income. The Federal Government has therefore prepared a relief and investment package comprising the following measures.

relief measures

These comprise approx. 50 million euros and take effect retroactively from 1 January 2020.

1. Adjustment of the health insurance minimum contribution basis

An alignment of the minimum HI contribution basis with the generally applicable level for insured persons.

For unit-value holdings, this results in a relief volume of up to 320 euros per holding and year, for option holdings up to 930 euros per holding and year.

2. Reduction of the imputation percentage in the case of a fictitious life estate from 13% to 10%

This measure results in an average additional 450 euros of old-age pension per person and year for the retired farmer concerned.

3. Increase of the pension insurance contribution basis for full-time employed children up to the age of 27

The increase provides an additional incentive to take over the holding. The amount of the relief depends on the unit value of the holding.

For a unit value of 20,000 euros, the relief is around 1,140 euros per person and year, for a unit value of 40,000 euros it amounts to 1,590 euros per person and year, and for a unit value of 80,000 euros it is 2,050 euros.

4. Cancellation of the solidarity contribution of pensioners on all pensions in the amount of 0.5%.

The solidarity contribution is deducted exclusively from farmers' pensions. Therefore, all retired farmers benefit from this measure.

5. Raising the turnover limit for secondary agricultural activities to 40,000 euros and future valorisation

The currently applicable limit of 33,000 euros for the allocation of secondary activities to agriculture and forestry is based on the limit for small farmers, up to which these holdings do not charge VAT and cannot offset input tax. This limit has not been raised for more than ten years and is therefore no longer appropriate, also in view of the fact that the limit for small holdings has already been raised.

The increase benefits, among others, agricultural enterprises with direct marketing, alpine pasture pubs or municipal services, because they can carry out secondary activities up to the new limit within the framework of agriculture and forestry.

6. Introduction of a fiscal risk compensation measure (= profit smoothing) to better protect farmers against price and yield fluctuations

In order to better compensate for poor harvest and production years, among other things as a result of the effects of climate change, taxation of agricultural income should no longer be annual, but rather, upon application, over a multi-year averaging period (profit smoothing over 3 years).

7. Deletion of the unit value limit and increase in the turnover limit for the obligation to keep accounts

The turnover-dependent accounting limit is raised to the generally applicable turnover limit for all companies from 550,000 to 700,000 (previously only agriculture at 550,000).

8. Adjustment of the lump-sum limits in agriculture and forestry while maintaining the upper limit for full lump-sum payments of 75,000 euros unit value

Abolition of the full lump-sum limits for:

o 10 hectares of intensive fruit orchards for the production of table fruit

o 120 livestock units actually produced and kept

o 60 hectares of cultivated reduced agricultural area

These limits were additionally introduced in 2012. Due to the price and income developments since then, these limits are no longer objectively justified if the same farms are to be able to apply the full flat-rate system as at that time.

9. Change concerning the forestry valuation guidelines in the area of unit value

The existing per-hectare unit value will be adjusted in the event of calamity. In the case of an application for a value adjustment (with existing value adjustment limits), the existing hectare rates are reduced by 30% if at least 20% of the forest area is affected by a calamity.

10. Partial lump-sum payment - increase in flat-rate operating expenses

In the case of calamity use, the cost of transport is much higher in relation to the revenue from the roundwood harvested. As compensation, the flat-rate operating expenses are increased.

A surcharge of 20 percent on the flat-rate operating expenses is introduced for the operating income attributable to forest use due to force majeure.

11. Transfer of "hidden reserves“

Under the current regime, half of the income from calamity use is considered a transferable "hidden reserve". This share is increased to 70%.

In addition to this, the transfer of "hidden reserves" for income from calamity use is made possible to buildings, but also to land. The transfer is also permitted to acquisition or production costs (partial amounts of acquisition or production costs) of land or buildings.

In order to ensure that the transfer of "hidden reserves" is fully effective, the following additional changes will be made:

 

Investment measures in forestry

These are investments in the forestry sector with a total of approximately 350 million euros.

1. Reafforestation after calamities

Rapid reafforestation to ensure the forest functions sustainably.

2. Establishment of forests that are fit for the climate - forest tending

Measures to regulate the tree-species composition in order to maintain forests vital and fit for our climate and to prevent future damage.

3. Compensation for bark beetle damage caused by climate change

Compensation for loss of value when forest protection measures were implemented.

4. Establishment of storage sites for calamity timber

Construction of wet and dry storage facilities to be able to quickly remove the calamity wood from the forest.

5. Mechanical debarking as a forest protection measure

Special debarking devices on wood harvesting machines can be used to contain the harmful reproduction of bark-breeding insects. Compensation for the additional expenditure when using mechanical debarking devices.

6. Ensuring forest fire prevention and control

Measures to prevent and combat forest fires

7. Research facility for the production of wood gas and biofuels

Construction of a research facility for the production of wood gas and fuels from wood.

8.  Research priority "climate-fit forests“

Practice-oriented applied research projects to foster forests that are fit for our climate.

9. Timber construction offensive

Package of measures for the increased use of wood as a building material to substitute CO2-intensive building materials and have CO2 stored in wooden buildings.

10. Strengthening, maintaining and promoting biodiversity in forests

Strengthening biodiversity, inter alia by expanding the network of natural forest reserves, creating stepping stone biotopes and other measures for forest elements worthy of preservation. 

published at 25.08.2020, Kommunikation und Service (Abteilung Präs. 5)