Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research, Birmensdorf

Alpine summer farming in Switzerland: surveys on the situation and choice of alpine summer farms

In parallel with agriculture in the lowlands, alpine summer farming is also currently in a state of change. Within the framework of the inter- and transdisciplinary research programme AlpFUTUR, three representative written surveys were carried out in which managers of alpine summer farms as well as of summer-pasturing and non-summer-pasturing home farms were asked for facts, opinions and ratings. The results show inter alia that alpine summer farming is still strongly rooted in Swiss agriculture, with 48 % of livestock-keeping farms arranging for summer-pasturing of animals. Over half of those surveyed attributed as much importance to tradition as to economic efficiency in the decision to do so. Whilst the traditional division of labour between dairy farming on the home farm and heifer rearing on alpine pastures continues to exist, the importance of suckler-cow farming is also increasing on the Alps. A competent, well-trained workforce emerged as a clear key factor in the choice of alpine summer farms.

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