Establishment of the Ministry
Special concerns of agricultural policy were to improve animal breeding and forestry and to enhance the quality of life in rural areas. Even today strengthening rural areas as a backbone of society is still a fundamental objective of the Ministry. This includes efforts to increase the competitiveness of agriculture and the sale of its products on national and international markets. These issues were important at the time of the monarchy - and they have not lost any of their relevance.
The Imperial and Royal Ministry of Agriculture
When the Imperial and Royal Ministry of Agriculture was established in 1868 one of the crucial reasons for doing so was that agriculture needed a new form of administration. Since that time Austria has had a central institution managing the affairs of agriculture, forestry and water management on government level which ensures a future-oriented, environmentally sound agricultural policy in the Austrian and in the European framework.
Austria’s accession to the European Union
Austria’s accession to the European Union in 1995 required an adaptation to a completely new agricultural system. Stable economic and ecological framework conditions were, and still are, indispensable for the development of Austria’s agriculture and forestry. As it used to be 130 years ago, ensuring them is the primary task of the Ministry. This is the only way of offering people in rural areas framework conditions which allow them to live, work and do business there - and thus also a basis which allows them to fulfil their multiple functions in society also in the future.
Merger of Ministries
In 1972 the environment sector was for the first time part of the then Federal Ministry of Health and Environmental Protection. As from 1987, the portfolio was assigned to the Federal Ministry of Environment, Youth and Family Affairs and - except for the short period from 1995 to 1996 when Austria had a separate environment ministry - stayed there until the year 2000. Since that time the competences for soil, water, air and intact nature have all been exercised at the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management.
In 2018 the competences of the Ministry were extended to include also tourism, energy and mining affairs. The principle of sustainability combines all of these thematic areas - to illustrate that, the BMLFUW (Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management) was officially renamed “Federal Ministry for Sustainability and Tourism” (BMNT).