Mountain areas have, in general, overcome farming difficulties and the handicaps of geographical peripheral location and low competivity. As the agricultural sector is of significant relevance for land use in these areas the different farm management sytems have considerable implications on the regional environment and the rural economy.Mountain farming has been a policy subject since the 1970s. However, the effects of the application of less-favoured areas policy has hardly been analysed for EU countries, and also the achievement of Austrian mountain policy have been addressed mainly in close relationship to existing policies. The impact of differences of intensity within mountain farming and its implications for the provision of central non-market benefits of agriculture have only been reflected recently. This conceptual shift has been brought about primarily by the challenge to investigate and foster the multiple functions of agriculture, particularly in the context of less-favoured areas. Mountains are seen in many respects as regions where the ecological sensitivity is extremely high and limits of intensification occur much earlier than elsewhere.The paper notes the differences of regional developments of mountain areas and calls for an analysis at a low scale level, the inclusion of considerations on structural development and an integrative concept for regional development in mountain areas. This last point seems extremely important for the future of small scaled farming structure since only the combination of farm and off-farm work and appropriate regional initiatives might be seen as effective strategies against detrimental tendencies for the environment and marginalisation of mountain regions.