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38th Congress of the European Regional Science Association: "Europe Quo Vadis? - Regional Questions at the Turn of the Century", 28 August - 1 September 1998, Vienna, Austria
38th European Regional Science Association ? Congress 1998 August 28th ? September 1st Topic H: Services, Small Firms, Employment Creation and Regional Development A b s t r a c t Farming Initiatives ? A base in Rural Development? by Elisabeth Loibl As agricultural policy has failed to ensure sufficient income, some farm women and farmers try new ways in order to invent new economic bases to improve their household income. The ideas and their way of implementation are often very original, the combining of agricultural and non-agricultural activities innovative. The Federal Institute for Less-favoured and Mountainous Areas has carried out a study on different innovative projects in rural areas which have their roots in agriculture connected with non-agricultural business. The central issues are: Which circumstances lead to the idea and innovative improvement? How is the idea implemented? Is there any support by public and private institutions (extension service, promotion)? The possibilities of alternative income sources on farm units are very manifold. The wide range reaches from selling special products over cooperative trading agricultural products to different services including social services by alternative use of farm resources. Nearly every initiative made use of the existing extension services which lead to the conclusion that consulting is a decisive factor for initiatives. One of the consulting's crucial part is to act as a mediator between the administration and other public institutions on the one hand and the participants in rural areas on the other hand in order to connect the institutions of promotion with the entitled rural population. In general, farm women provide a big sensitivity for the changes in life. Thus they are often open-hearted towards readjustment and new alternative income prospects. However, they can suffer from the opposition within the farm family starting new occupations. In most cases the first impediments have to be overcome already before the activity starts. The initiative was taken for various reasons, the alternative income source develops step by step and sometimes has already become an own enterprise. During innovative processes the participants' activity and commitment is accompanied with recognizing and perceiving their circumstances, chances, and the impact of certain general settings concerning their activities. With regard to changing activities it is very essential to team up with other people in order to create capable organisation structures and to give each other human support. Most of the participants working in rural initiatives have further plans for the future. At the end it was given the impression that one step is following the other and it seems as if the road is made on the move.
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