Dairy farms : pasture, the economical and green ?

What type of firm is more cost effective and more environmentally friendly in France ? The network of Centres of initiatives to develop agriculture and rural areas (Civam) is questioned in a study published this Tuesday on the links that exist between the importance of the dairy farm and the profitability that comes with it. More specifically, Joel Restif, a farmer in Ille-et-Vilaine to the Civam network, explained that they were looking for and “a correlation between the size of the firm and the economic result”.

And to do this, the Civam analyzed the results of 170 farms in the sustainable Agriculture network (AD). This network is directly connected to the Civam, put in place a different approach to agricultural production systems, so that they are more self-reliant and efficient, leaving for example their cows to graze to get a better quality rather than only search for the mass production.

The farms are not “organic”, and are all located in the west of France. The Civam compared with a “target sample” of 354 farms, belonging to the farm accountancy data network (Fadn), which provides all the statistical information of the ministry of Agriculture, and that only takes into account the dairy farms whose production standard gross (PBS) is at least 25,000 euros.

Less production, more wealth

The results of their study highlight, no surprise, that the farms belonging to the AD network-and who buy a lot of add-ins power – use less pesticides and have carbon emissions lower. In addition to these initial observations, they pointed out that “the volume of product does not generate necessarily more income,” according to Joel Restif.

The farmer also says that in the farms that prefer the pasture to the other modes of breeding their cattle, the race to production is not necessary, given that they “work mainly on the economic efficiency and the creation of added value”. The farms of the AD network would create even more wealth (+24% of value added) compared to the farms in the Fadn, and in spite of the production of cow’s milk lower.

For the farmer, “the remuneration of work is more important on their farms, even with the smaller sizes”. In comparison with the farms Rica, he emphasizes at the same time that “farms AD have 12,000 euros of profit before tax in addition, with 19.000 euros of production in the least”. A significant gap would be in favour of the model advocated by the operators of the AD network.

“Wear a model agricultural alternative”

In addition, in the farms of the AD, 48% of value added and of CAP subsidies would be used to pay for work, compared to only 33% in the firm Rica. The study provides that “the annual disposable income for the operator not employee is 21.123 euros”, and that in comparison it is 6.974 euros in the firm Rica.

According to Arnaud Gauffier, head of agriculture at WWF France, these differences would also serve to “bring a model agricultural alternative”, that no longer work, merely from an economic point of view, but also from the environmental point of view. The problem would not only be economic, because it notes that “the increase of labour productivity in the farms, the strong reliance on inputs and the race for investment is no longer a guarantee of economic efficiency”. For the NGOS, the emergency resides in the change of mentalities, in order to finally “get out of the religion of the volumes”. A debate that could take place in the framework of the discussions of the states-general of the diet, which are open to all since the month of June.

(with agencies)

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