Austrian farm chief Köstinger resigns

Austria’s Agriculture Minister Elisabeth Köstinger announced her resignation Monday, saying she intends to quit politics and go into the private sector.

Köstinger, 43, held the role of agriculture chief over two terms, the most recent one since early 2020. The center-right Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) politician was a close political ally of former Chancellor Sebastian Kurz who stepped down in a corruption scandal last October.

“With Sebastian Kurz’s decision to leave politics, it was also clear to me that I would close this chapter,” she said in a statement Monday, adding that she had agreed to stay on for a “transitional period” of a few months under current Chancellor Karl Nehammer, who thanked her on Twitter.

In her statement she counted the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy and securing mandatory origin labels on food products among her top achievements in office. “The time has now come for me to stay connected to politics, this country and the People’s Party, but to also turn over a new leaf and pursue a future in the private sector,” she said.

A former MEP, Köstinger pushed hard as a minister in Brussels for the EU to be less dependent on imported plant proteins and for more transparency on food labels. She also lobbied to make the EU’s forestry strategy more business-centric.

As recently as last Thursday she held a meeting with EU Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski to discuss the Commission’s pledge to create a strategy for expanding EU plant protein production, as well as providing humanitarian aid to Ukraine.

Her replacement is set to be announced in the coming days.

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