Mountain farmer

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Mountain farms in Seres in San Martin de Tor in South Tyrol at an altitude of 1,605 m
A mountain farm in Alpbach - Tyrol

A mountain farmer is a farmer in the mountains . A mountain farm is characterized by the mostly difficult or impossible use of technical equipment due to the slope and slope. In addition, the management is made more difficult by extreme climatic conditions and poor accessibility to pastures and fields .


A mast of the old cable car to the Alp on the Flimserstein , in the background the two masts of the newer cable car built as a replacement.
Slope management at around 3,900 m altitude in the province of Tarma , Peruvian Andes

Typical properties of the mountain farmer include a mountain farm and, depending on the location, one or more alpine pastures , but these are only used in summer for cattle farming and cheese production. This results in the need for two-time cattle drive in, the transhumance in the spring and the cattle drive in the fall. The animal population consists mainly of goats, sheep and cows. Typical products are butter, cheese and beef. In addition to the (direct) marketing of these farm products, tourism is also an increasingly important source of income (e.g. holidays on the farm ). Hay (dried grass ) is mowed in the meadows, while arable farming is only possible on a very small scale for personal consumption in the form of a kitchen garden, as cultivation is no longer economical at a certain altitude.

Agricultural ropeways ( i.e. cable cars ) are used where simple driveways cannot be created for various reasons (terrain, nature reserve). They are used to transport hay, manure, materials and the transport of the products produced. In order to develop extremely located mountain farms and remote alpine pastures without a road, material ropeways are also used to transport people (with a limited number of users), where the establishment of an access road would mean a disproportionate effort.

Cultivation of a mountain meadow with a special tractor for mountain mowing


In the early Middle Ages , mountain farms were extremely rare because there was enough arable land. Only with the high medieval population explosion did the development of these difficult to cultivate areas become more attractive.

The barns were part of the adaptation to the difficult road conditions in the high mountains . They not only served as a haystack, but also as a stable. The hay mowed on remote meadows was stored on the spot in the barn. The cattle were driven from one barn to another in winter when a barn was empty.

The Walsers were the pioneers in the establishment of permanent settlements in unfavorable locations . Their settlement in high valleys was encouraged by the sovereigns, but was rather unpopular with the indigenous population of lower valleys, because they lost their pastures as a result.

For a later farmer's son who had no prospect of a farm succession, it was more attractive to have a modest independence as a mountain farmer than to work as a farmhand.

Economic situation

The grazing of the high-lying areas prevents erosion (landslides) and delays forest cover, which also preserves the landscape favorable to tourism. The pastures are fertilized by the manure of the animals. The lack of competitiveness of the mountain farmers compared to large-scale farms in the lowlands with great potential for rationalization is usually offset by state subsidies . Nevertheless, many locations are threatened with migration. The determination of the particularity of a mountain farm compared to the other agricultural and forestry operations is carried out by dividing the areas into so-called difficult zones based on cadastral plans, in which the soil is divided into zones with different processing and usage difficulties based on various factors (area, climate level, slope inclination) becomes.

The self- image of the mountain farmers receiving subsidies is not only expressed in their role as landscape maintenance workers, but also in the production of high-quality, non-industrial, natural products. Mostly a cooperation with the tourism of the region is sought. The respective companies act as buyers of the products. Another source of income is tapped with the offer of accommodation (vacation on the mountain farm). At the same time, with the strengthening of direct marketing (from the farm or at farmers' markets), attempts are being made to open up old ways again in order to supplement the relatively low income from sales to the large processing companies with smaller amounts of higher income in this segment.

Mountain farmers milk comes from the cows of state-approved mountain farmers.

See also

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Christian Pfister: Weather forecast , Verlag Paul Haupt 1999
  2. ^ Elisabeth Lichtenberger : The mountain farmers problem in the Austrian Alps , 1965

Web links

Commons : Mountain Farmers  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Bergbauer  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations