BAB 045/20: COVID-19 Lessons learnt


With the beginning of the Covi9-19 crisis in March 2020, weaknesses of the Austrian and global economic system became visible. The initiative for the research project was already taken in April 2020 when it became clear that coping with the Covid-19 crisis would pose major challenges to the agricultural and forestry sector.


To present short- and medium-term measures to strengthen agricultural production and its processing and marketing in light of the lessons learned from the Corona crisis. As well as to generate evidence on: i) regional value chains / international market linkages; ii) labor input in agriculture / labor from abroad; iii) outlets in gastronomy and direct marketing; and iv) promotional instruments. The project is divided into work packages, staff members of the Federal Institute of Agriculture and Mining will participate in the following sub-projects:

Work package 1: Project management
Project managers: Thomas Resl (BAB) and Franz Sinabell (WIFO)
Staff members: Susanna Steinbrecher (BAB), Susanne Markytan (WIFO)
The project Covid-19-Lessons Learnt (acronym RESILIENZ) implements a large interdisciplinary research project. The basic project idea is to screen the elements of the agri-food value chain in Austria with regard to their resilience, to create new data systems and to establish the basis for fact- and evidence-based assessments. Another goal is to develop measures together with actors in the value chain through which resilience is improved. The technical and organizational management is carried out jointly by BAB and WIFO. The dual control principle ensures that the targeted objectives can be met within the ambitious schedule and creates redundancy in the organizational processes.

Work package 2: Feed balance
Project leader: Thomas Resl (BAB)
Staff members: Steinwidder, Guggenberger, Krimberger (HBLFA RG), Bader (STAT), Gahleitner, Linder and Maria (BAB)
Feed is the most important input in Austrian agriculture. In 2019, a total of €1.5 billion of the €4.3 billion in intermediate inputs was spent on feed. To illustrate the orders of magnitude: Energy, the second most important input was demanded to the tune of €0.4 billion. About one third of feed (calculated in values) is produced by the agricultural sector itself.
In Austria, there is an annually published statistic on the production and use of feed at the federal level, the feed balance. It is compiled by the HBLF-RA in cooperation with Statistik Austria. However, due to technological change, it is necessary to adapt and update the method used so far. One aim of the project is to systematically present the value chains of Austrian agriculture and, in doing so, to show the regional dimension separately, if this is objectively justified and possible. Since the feed balance is currently only available at the federal level, information on the most important input of Austrian agriculture at the regional level is missing. In the work package AP BAB_LW Regional Inputs, the intermediate consumption of agricultural activities is calculated at the regional level (NUTS 3). To ensure that the allocation is correct, the feed balance should be available at the same level. This ensures that factor inputs (labor, land, capital), intermediate inputs (feed and others), and outputs (agricultural goods and services) are in the form of consistent methods.

Work package 3: Regional agricultural value chains
Project leader: Thomas Resl (BAB)
Collaborators: Hambrusch, Gahleitner, Linder, Maria, Reindl, Schneck, Heinschink, Pistrich, Doppelreiter, Stelzer (all BAB), Sinabell, Streicher, Weinberger (all WIFO)
At the BAB, the volume flows of important cash crops were recorded in detail and clearly presented. These are cereals (including corn). There are currently no comparable representations for the most important commercial crops and animal products. An important step in order to adequately describe the supply situation is to record the most important other agricultural commodities. This involves depicting the main processing steps in terms of quantity. It is not possible to depict all products in detail in this scheme. The selection of agricultural activities is made with regard to their importance for human nutrition. Fodder for livestock is the most important and, in terms of value, the most significant input for agriculture in Austria. Many agricultural commodities are also partly provided as feed either directly on the farm or via trade flows between farms or via an additional processing stage in the feed industry. The feed balance provides information on the most important quantities, but not on the links in the value chain that provide them. In the work package AP BAB_Futtermittelbilanz this knowledge gap shall be closed. In the course of the present work package not only the quantity flow shall be presented, but also the value chain shall be considered from the monetary point of view. For this purpose, previously unused statistics such as the supply and use tables or the reconciled employment statistics and workplace census will be used. In this supplementary module, the quantitative representation is supplemented by the value-based representation, as far as this is possible.

Work Package 4: Regional Demand for Intermediate Inputs in Austrian Agriculture
Project leader: Karin Heinschink (BAB)
Collaborators: Tribl (BAB), Mayer (STAT), Sinabell (WIFO)
At the BAB a data information system is developed in cooperation, in which the costs of agricultural production are examined. The data model INCAP (index based costs of agricultural production) is closely linked to IDB (internet contribution margin) from BAB. The purpose is to show the structure of variable production costs and their components for the most important practices in Austria according to regional aspects. Not only is a distinction made between organic and conventional farming methods, but other extensive production methods are also covered. For the purpose of the evaluation of the rural development program, Statistik Austria has presented an evaluation of the EAA (agricultural accounts) at regional level (NUTS 3) in several projects. The factor inputs, especially the intermediate inputs, are listed as a whole, but not in relation to the individual processes. In the present work package, the two approaches will be combined to describe the upstream value chains. The evaluations are supplemented by the results from two other work packages: WP WIFO_LW FW Unemployed, in which employment by foreign workers is analyzed, and WP BAB_Fodder Balance, in which the method of feed balances is adapted. Updated data on the EAA at NUTS 3 level and the updated feed balance are to be provided by Statistics Austria.

Work package 5: Forestry labor market
Project leader: Zöscher (BFW Forestry Training Center Ossiach)
Collaborators: Huber, Nemestóthy, Wurm (all BFW), BockSchappelwein, Kaniovski, Weinberger, Sinabell (all WIFO), Oedl-Wieser, Quendler (BAB)
The labor market in Austria is subject to strong dynamic changes. In recent years, workers from EU member states have gradually been given access to the labor market. Companies have taken advantage of this broader offer and are increasingly employing workers who were not born and educated in Austria. It should also be noted, however, that almost half of the annual volume of timber harvested is done by the company's own forestry workers, by farmers' contractors or by the managers of farms with strong forestry operations themselves. Another development also plays an important role: rapid technological advances in timber harvesting and increasing capital intensity have increasingly changed the organization of forest production. Many activities that were recently performed by the farm itself are now bought in as a service. These changes have led to new forms of organization, some of which involve greater risks. The sometimes more favorable costs are offset by additional dependencies and imponderables that are difficult for companies to control. In this work package, the interrelationships will be systematically worked through and solutions will be proposed to improve resilience. It seems to be important that impulses to stimulate the value chain and the motivation for wood mobilization and the stronger skimming of the current wood increment, represent at the same time important impulses for the preservation of the economic power of the rural area and the guarantee of the prosperity of rural regions. A precise and detailed description of the framework conditions, influencing factors and regulatory mechanisms of the forest and wood value chain as well as their influence on the socio-politically important areas of the labor market and employment situation as well as the overall bioeconomic performance is therefore essential.

Work package 6: Market power
Project leader: Pröll (BOKU)
Collaborators: Grüneis, Loibl, Bauchinger (BAB), Schmidt-Dengler (University of Vienna), Sinabell (WIFO)
In Austria, the concentration in food retailing and in individual segments of the industry for processing or of buyers of agricultural raw materials is very high. This raises the concern that the market position is abused against the multitude of small suppliers. At the core of the issue is the question of whether farmers or farmer-owned enterprises (producer groups, cooperatives) are exposed to market power and thus achieve prices that are below the competitive price. There are only a few studies in Austria that deal with this issue. The available findings are not very conclusive, as important variables for assessing whether or not market power exists have a low validity. The reason for this is that entire industries are usually considered rather than individual companies. Competition law requires clear evidence and complete proof in proceedings on the dominant position of individual companies. Clear evidence is also necessary in order to find majorities in parliament or to get the green light from the EU Commission to establish drastic measures to strengthen competition. Companies and businesses that have a weak market position can improve their position by providing data that can be used for analysis in such proceedings. However, since the evidence is not easy from an industrial-economic point of view and depends on critical details, a systematic approach is needed. Provisions suggested by the EU Commission or to be implemented as a requirement, such as the establishment of ombudsman offices, strengthen the weaker links. However, the game-theoretical constellations are not trivial, since reputation is built up and repeated interactions take place between suppliers and buyers, and signals are conveyed that are difficult for outsiders to recognize. At present, there are hardly any findings at all for Austria on the subject of forestry, and there are no instruments in forestry policy comparable to those in agriculture. It is therefore necessary to first review the international literature and to examine the market structure. The specific situation is that there are few large forestry companies and many small ones. This leads to special constellations, especially since product differentiation is not possible to the same extent as in agriculture. In this work package, supported by modern industrial economic concepts and with the tailwind of the instruments currently being implemented by the EU Commission to strengthen the market position of small producers, the aim is to survey the views of the individual sectors in order to develop tailored proposals that contribute to fair conditions between the market participants.

Work package 7: Analysis of the procurement of food via tenders
Project leader: Klien (WIFO)
Collaborators: Oedl-Wieser, Quendler (BAB), Kaniovski, Sinabell, Weingärtler (all WIFO)
With a volume of more than €770 million in 2018, the public sector represents an important part of the demand for food (These are only upper-threshold awards. Including awards below EU thresholds, the volume of public demand for food is likely to be much higher). Given this significant demand factor, it seems surprising that there have been no systematic analyses of this important part of the value chain for Austria to date. Yet, with the data published by the European Commission in TED (Tenders Electronic Daily) and the core data on, there are now already two rich data sets for analyzing public demand for food. Based on these datasets processed by WIFO, it is possible to gain more detailed insights into public procurement of food on the basis of several thousand awards per year - with several hundred awards relating to the food sector. To the best of our knowledge, an evaluation of these data with regard to food in Austria has not yet been carried out. The expected results are able to draw the linkages between suppliers and public purchasers, allowing specifically the question of regionality to be investigated.

Work package 8: Unemployed persons from abroad in the agri-food value chain
Project Manager: Bock-Schappelwein (WIFO)
Collaborators: Wiesinger, Egartner (BAB), Böhs, Sinabell, Weinberger (all WIFO)
In 2019, 25,217 employed persons were working in agriculture and forestry. This corresponded to 0.7% of the active dependent employees in Austria. Compared to the pre-crisis year 2018, there were thus almost a third more dependent employees in agriculture and forestry (2008/19: +6,230 or +33.0%). Compared to the overall economy, employment in agriculture and forestry is characterized by a comparatively high share of foreign workers or commuters from abroad. In 2019, the share of workers with non-Austrian citizenship was 53.3%, more than twice as high as among all actively employed persons in Austria (21.5%). In addition, almost one-third of foreign workers employed in agriculture and forestry lived abroad in 2019 (2019: 32.4%), i.e. commuted to work in Austria. Across all sectors, 13.9% of all foreign workers in Austria had their place of residence abroad in 2019 and commuted to Austria for work purposes. Differentiated by place of residence, it is also evident that the employment dynamics among foreign workers in agriculture and forestry in recent years have been driven in particular by those who commute to Austria for work. Thus, the majority of employed persons in agriculture originate from abroad, and the share of employed persons with foreign roots in the value chain is also high. The Bali database of the BMAFJ provides a comprehensive overview of the structure of dependent employment differentiated by gender, age, citizenship, place of residence and economic class (up to ÖNACE 4-digit level) or province of the employer. It is thus an important source of data for characterizing employment at the industry level and for making changes in the scope of employment visible. The WIFO Individual Database (INDI-DV) captures similar characteristics as Bali, but includes additional characteristics for workers that allow a more in-depth analysis of employment relationships as well as additional establishment-specific attributes. For example, evaluations can be conducted with regard to firm characteristics (e.g., firm size, characteristics of employment change in the firm) in addition to industry affiliation. Further characteristics can also be considered with regard to the employees, such as career paths in the company.


Projektbeginn: November 2020

Projektende: Juni 2022

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Tractor with loading shovel in front of stable building

Tractor with loading shovel in front of stable building

BABF, Neissl, 2004

Project Status


Project Leader

RESL, Thomas

DI M.Sc. Thomas RESL

former employees



Mag. Lisa Bauchinger

former employees

MMag.a Sigrid EGARTNER

Rural Sociology and Library


Agricultural Economics and Data Management
GRUENEIS, Heidelinde Heidelinde GRUENEIS

Mountain Areas Research and Regional Development

DI Dipl.-Päd. Ing. Josef HAMBRUSCH

Agricultural Economics and Data Management


Agricultural, Environmental and Food Systems
LOIBL, Elisabeth Elisabeth LOIBL

former employees
MARIA, Richard

B.Sc. Richard MARIA

Agricultural Economics and Data Management

Mag.a Theresia OEDL-Wieser

Rural Sociology and Library

Rural Sociology and Library
REINDL, Andreas

DI B.Ed. Andreas REINDL

former employees


former employees


former employees
TRIBL, Christoph

DI Dr. Christoph TRIBL

Agricultural, Environmental and Food Systems


Rural Sociology and Library
STELZER, Christoph

DI B.Sc. Christoph STELZER

Agricultural Economics and Data Management
WEIGL, Martin


Agricultural Economics and Data Management
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