CHAMBERS OF AGRICULTURE
|CHAMBERS OF AGRICULTURE
The system of public-law bodies which represent the interests of agriculture. The Austrian Constitution delegates the regulation of this representation to Land level, and the Chambers of Agriculture, one of which was established for each of Austria's nine Länder, are therefore governed by the particular laws of the Land in question. This results in certain differences in their organization, the most important of which concerns their membership domain. Whereas they all share the common feature that membership is obligatory for landowners and self-employed persons working in agriculture and forestry (including assisting family members) and for co-operatives in this sector, there are differences as regards employees: in the Tirol and Vorarlberg, all employees in agriculture and forestry are also members of the Chamber. In these two Länder, therefore, there is the unique configuration of an organization which unites employers and employees and is formally responsible for representing the interests of both, although within the Chambers concerned the representation of the two sides is largely autonomous. In the other seven Länder, agricultural employees have their own Chamber. The peak organization in the agriculture and forestry sector is the PKLWK (Standing Committee of Presidents of the Chambers of Agriculture), the voluntary association uniting the nine Chambers of Agriculture (see Chambers), and the Austrian Association of Agricultural Co-operatives (Österreichischer Raiffeisenverband), a voluntary association representing the interests of agriculture and forestry co-operatives. The PKLWK represents agriculture and forestry in Austria's system of social partnership and therefore belongs to the exclusive circle of social partners (or their organizations). Austria's entry into the EU has brought about a decline in the PKLWK's importance in the social partnership system, since the shift of powers and responsibilities on agricultural policy to Brussels has also separated the sector's problems from the other areas of economic and social policy. In general, the tasks of the Chambers of Agriculture include the representation of agriculture and forestry interests, the provision of advisory services for their members and collaboration in sectoral regulatory measures (e.g. the implementation of public promotional programmes for agriculture and forestry).