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«Summary Both Austria and Japan have a small-scaled agricultural structure and a high share of farms managed part-time. Family farming is the ...»

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Comparative analysis of patterns in farm

succession in Austria and Japan from a gender

perspective

Eine vergleichende Analyse der Hofnachfolge in Österreich und Japan aus

Geschlechterperspektive

Yukiko OTOMO and Theresia OEDL-WIESER

Summary

Both Austria and Japan have a small-scaled agricultural structure and a

high share of farms managed part-time. Family farming is the

predominant form of agricultural production. Until recently the family

farm was handed over in patri-linear tradition from father to son.

Nowadays this patriarchal system of farm succession has become fragile for a range of reasons. This paper analyses the effects of the patri-linear farm succession on the position of women in agriculture.

The focus is on current changes and on a comparison between the two countries. While in Austria in recent years more women are entering the management of farms and in many regions daughters are increasingly becoming farm successors, in Japan the patriarchal farm succession pattern is still in place.

Keywords: farm succession, gender inequality, life course Zusammenfassung Sowohl Österreich als auch Japan weisen eine kleinstrukturierte Landwirtschaft mit einem hohen Anteil an Nebenerwerbsbetrieben auf. Die Betriebe werden überwiegend von bäuerlichen Familien bewirtschaftet. War bis in jüngster Zeit in beiden Ländern die patri-lineare Hofübergabe, also die Übergabe vom Vater auf den Sohn, vorherrschend, so zeigen sich zusehends Veränderungen dieser patriarchalen Praxis.

Published 2009 in the Jahrbuch der Österreichischen Gesellschaft für Agrarökonomie, Vol. 18(2): 79-92. Available on-line: http://oega.boku.ac.at 80 Otomo and Oedl-Wieser In diesem Beitrag sollen die Auswirkungen der patri-linearen Übergabepraxis in der Landwirtschaft auf die Stellung der Frauen im Agrarbereich sowie deren Veränderungen analysiert werden. Auch wird ein die Übergabepraxis in den beiden Ländern aus Geschlechterperspektive verglichen. Während in Österreich in den letzten Jahren die Zahl der Betriebsleiterinnen auf landwirtschaftlichen Betrieben zunimmt und in manchen Regionen Töchter vermehrt die Höfe übernehmen, bleibt in Japan das patriarchale Hofübergabemuster aufrecht.

Schlagworte: Hofnachfolge, Geschlechterungleichheit, Lebenszyklen

1. Introduction Austria and Japan are highly developed countries with a small percenttage of persons employed in agriculture (Austria 5.1%, Japan 4.8%) and a low share of agriculture in the gross value added (Austria 1.7%, Japan 1.2%). The agricultural structure is small scaled (Austria 18.8 ha, Japan 1.36 ha) and the share of part-time farming and pluri-active farm families is very high. Despite these figures agriculture still plays an important role. In Austria, mountain farming has a key role in safeguarding the sensitive ecosystem, the multifunctional landscape and the general living and working space. In Japan, paddy fields, farms and rural communities have also multiple roles in human life, such as preservation of the natural environment, food security, cultural heritage. The external effects of agriculture are important factors for the regional economies in both countries. Economic and social changes have influenced the situation of family farms in the last decades, such as declining incomes in agriculture, higher educational level, job opportunities outside the farms, commuting to (regional) centres.

According to these options it becomes more difficult to recruit successors for family farms in rural areas because farming is losing its attractiveness for young people. In both countries farm succession was following for a long time patri-linear patterns which are becoming more fragile.

A comparative study on farm succession in Austria and Northern Germany indicated that Austrian farmers have distinct traditional attitudes in farming which are likely for disadvantaged areas (GLAUBEN et al., 2004). These findings are useful for interpreting Japanese farmfamily succession because Japanese farming families also have Farm Succession Patterns in Austria and Japan traditional and institutional tendencies in their family life and farm management. In this paper the farm succession processes and patterns in Austria and Japan will be analysed and compared from a gendersensitive perspective. It will reveal if, and how, they are deviating from patriarchal institutions.

2. Methods To analyse the traditional patriarchal farm succession patterns in Austria and Japan and current changes, a multilevel research design was chosen. To explore the life course selection of family members and the designation of the farm successor, the ‘life course approach’ was applied. This approach is based on a concept of human development which considers individuals developing throughout their lives (MORIOKA, 1982). Therefore in-depth-interviews with farm families in Austria and Japan were conducted. The interview partners in Austria (Burgenland, Lower Austria and Salzburg) were identified by snowball sampling and represent the variety of farm types (wine, grain, dairy, livestock and holiday apartments). The interviews in Japan were carried out with farm families who are executing the “Family Management Agreement,” which represents a working and living “contract” among the farm family members (orchards, flowers, horticulture, tea leaves, lotus root and grain). Furthermore expert interviews with farm succession experts of the Chambers of Agriculture in the Austrian provinces were carried out [E1 - E9]. The main questions were (i) changes in the sex of the farm successor, (ii) changes in the contents of “farm transfer contracts”, (iii) arrangements concerning households of the old and young generation. In analysing and comparing the results of the different surveys, the status quo, changes and challenges of farm succession will be identified under a gender-sensitive perspective.





3. Farm succession in Austria In 2005 39% of the Austrian farmers are full-time farmers and 56% are part-time farmers (ÖSTAT 2006, 27). The life approaches of farm family members and the shaping of the CAP are decisive factors in this process. Vogel (2007) has reported that full-time farmers have higher rates of identified successors than part-time farmers. One remarkable 82 Otomo and Oedl-Wieser characteristic of the Austrian agriculture is the high percentage of women managing farms (30%) and more than 50% female family members working on the farms. The increasing number of female farm managers is due, to some extent, to social insurance law and subsidy considerations. However, these figures reflect the real working relations on Austrian farms and make women’s work more visible (OEDLWIESER, 2006). The legal status of the farm manager does not automatically mean that the female farm managers also own the farm property.

3.1 Traditional farm succession patterns in Austria On account of the topography, different kinds of agricultural settlement have been developed in the Alps (Central and Western Austria) and in the Pannonian lowland in the east. Therefore also different inheritance and succession patterns have been established (KRETSCHMER, 1980, 84). In most parts of Austria the “Anerbensitte” was practised, which means that the whole farm property was passed over to one heir (“closed” succession of a farm). In Vorarlberg and Burgenland the “Freiteilbarkeit” or “Realteilung” was prevailing, which means, that the land was split up between the children. Within the regions where the “Anerbensitte” was practised, the successor was the eldest (Majorat) or the youngest (Minorat) son of the farm family.

In most cases the eldest son was preferred (KRETSCHMER, 1980, 89). All these practises of farm succession and inheritance have in common, that the farms were transferred patri-linearly, from the father to the son, and that daughters were only succeeding the farm in exceptional cases.

In Austria the statutory succession of farms and agricultural property is rather the exception. In most cases the farm is handed over by a “farm transfer contract” which is signed by the farmer/farm couple and the heir (BÄCK, 2005, 543). The siblings have to sign a disclaimer and get their share in form of money or plots of land. With this contract the family farm is handed over through “anticipated succession”. The heir has to take care of the parents through the “Ausgedinge”. In times, when the old-age pension did not yet exist, the purpose of the “Ausgedinge” was to supply the parents with food, money and health care. Nowadays the living and working conditions on family farms have changed tremendously. In many cases one member of the young Farm Succession Patterns in Austria and Japan farm couple - in some cases both partners - is working part-time or fulltime outside the farm and is not able and willing to fulfil the extensive commitments included in a farm transfer contract.

Farm succession is still an issue of power which includes leaving, handing over and gaining power (MELBERG, 2008). So far the patrilinear nature of farm-transfer throughout Europe has preserved the current power divisions within farm families. Farm successors still tend to be identified early and enter a long period of socialisation. Thus the successors develop a personality and attitudes to farm life and acquire basic farm skills. Parents have in most cases gender-specific expectations and boys’ interest in agriculture is more strongly encouraged than girls’ (ROSSIER and WYSS, 2008, 211). So it seems that farm succession is an area where relations of male dominance are reproduced through informal rules and cultural codes, despite the recent implementation of formally gender neutral laws.

3.2 Changes in farm succession patterns in Austria The changes in agricultural structure and trends towards individuallism are challenging the traditional patriarchal succession patterns. In the following the views of farm succession experts from the chambers of agriculture (E1 - E9) will be discussed. The high rate of part-time farming, a rising employment rate of women in rural areas, the pension and health care system have all contributed to reduce the role and content of the farm transfer contracts.

The typical „Farm transfer contract“ doesn’t exist anymore. 30, 40 years ago they were very detailed but times and conditions on the farms have changed very massively. [E7, 5] In the last few years the trend can be observed that „Ausgedingeleistungen“ are not anymore part of the „Farm transfer contracts. [E4] Important changes can also be observed concerning the selection of the farm successor. In a growing number of cases the child with the biggest interest is taking over the farm, irrespective of whether it is the eldest or youngest child or whether it is a son or a daughter.

Nowadays it is not anymore compulsory, that the eldest son is the successor. The child with the strongest interest in farming is selected.

And it must not be the son, increasingly the daughters are succeeding the farms. [E4, 3] 84 Otomo and Oedl-Wieser The tendency is very clear in V., that the farm goes to the child which is most interested in the farm. [E1, 1] The co-ownership of the farm by women, which was the norm in some provinces (Upper and Lower Austria, Styria) is also changing. In general, the young farm successors share farm property rights with their wife only if she is working full-time on the farm.

In former times it was automatically that the farm wife got the half of the farm because they worked both full-time on the farm. And people said, this is the custom and this is o.k. The wife would not be happy to work all the day on the farm and have no property right. In those times divorce was not an issue on farms but nowadays it is also reality. [E2, 1] The farm succession process is not only an economic process but also related with big emotions. In the past many conflicts on the farms were caused by two or more generations living together in one household. In the meantime the older and younger generation have in most cases separated households.

It is important to build two different households on the farm – one flat on the ground floor and one on the first floor. It is necessary so that all family members have space to withdraw. [E4, 11]

4. Farm succession patterns in Japan



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