The profitability of mountain agriculture is of particular interest, since the multifunctional services rendered at higher effort are recompensed with a comparatively low income, despite the fact that substantial direct payments are disbursed. Based on reference farms from the Farm Accountancy Data Network (2013–2014), ten farms are categorised and the cost-efficiency of the various types of production analysed. Among the dairy farms, both high-intensity farms, but also large-area, low-intensity farms, as well as farms that produce according to organic guidelines, or those with specialities such as goat’s milk, are more successful than average farms that produce milk according to PEP standard. In terms of labour utilisation, calf-fattening farms perform significantly worse than suckler-cow farms. The farm types studied that reared suckler cows are economically worse-off than dairy farms, and are accordingly dependent on part-time sources of income. This farm analysis has allowed us to arrive at three economically successful production strategies that are most likely to gain social acceptance: milk production over an extensive surface area, demand-oriented quality and niche production, and extensification over a large surface area (pasture-fed meat production).
Profitability of different production orientations in the mountain region