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Assessing and reducing the vulnerability of mixed organic cattle-sheep farms

MOSNIER, Claire and MOUFID, Nassima (2021) Assessing and reducing the vulnerability of mixed organic cattle-sheep farms. Inrae, Clermont-Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes research center, 63122 Saint-Genès-Champanelle, France .

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Summary

Mixed farming systems are gaining interest both as a risk management strategy and to apply agroecological principles. Diversity in organic farming systems is particularly important since those farms have limited access to external inputs and more frequently use direct marketing.
The main objectives of this study were to assess 1) how organic cattle-sheep farmers of the French Massif Central feel exposed to risks and how they manage them and 2) how alternative strategies can reduce their vulnerability to the main risks identified. This study focuses on farms combing beef cattle, sheep for meat and some annual crops. Among the European farms surveyed for the MixEnable project, four French mixed beef-sheep farms were interviewed during the winter 2020-2021 and alternative strategies were simulated for their farms with the Orfee bioeconomic farm model. Climate risk appeared to be the most serious risk for farmers, followed by market risks. They considered that bad yields tend to become normal. Short term adaptations such as grassland end-use, animal production or forage security stock varied between farmers but they all frequently purchased supplementary feeds. All of them had already reduced their stocking rate or plan to do so. All farmers planned to maintain or increase the mix of enterprise on their farm.
The states of nature of each hazard (grassland yield, cereal yield, intercrop yield, output and input price, policy) were crossed assuming independence between risks and their values were defined according to farmers’ declarations. The Orfee bioeconomic farm was used to simulate the impacts of those hazards on the distribution of farm income. Two alternative scenarios were simulated and compared to the 2017 farm structure: 1) reduction of stocking rate either by a decrease in the size of the herd or by an increase of the surface in grasslands and 2) reduction of stocking rate associated with change in the animal enterprise mix with the addition of a pig enterprise or the replacement of beef enterprise by a dairy cow enterprise. The short-term adaptations such as feed purchase, feed stock, modification of grassland use, animal produced and sold and intercropping were optimized by the model for each combination of risks within the range of possibilities specified by farmers. We found that sensitivity was highest to changes in producer prices, particularly for pork and milk prices, followed by subsidies, spring pasture yield and then grain yield. They were not very sensitive to fuel prices of grassland fall yield. Farms that had more flexibility to adapt to hazards were somewhat less sensitive. Farms were also quite exposed to risks affecting grain yields, especially for a farm that sells all of its grain and shifts a high variability in yield. The reduction of stocking rate, reduced these sensitivities (except for cereal yield) by reducing farm exposure. The introduction of pigs or dairy also reduced the sensitivity by increasing average income. Three of the four farms were found to be vulnerable for the baseline situation since they had significant risk of very low incomes. Farms that had already low income because of low technical performance or high fixed costs in a normal year, or that had a higher probability of low grassland or crop yields had higher probability to fall below critical levels. The reduction of stocking rate reduced variability and standard deviation in all cases, nonetheless it was not sufficient to bring some farms out of vulnerability. The introduction of pig enterprise and the replacement of beef by dairy and cheese making did not reduce much the standard deviation due to significant risks associated to these enterprises but increased income; consequently, the farm vulnerability was reduced. Nonetheless, the ranges of profitability for pig or dairy are rather narrow. A poor technical mastery or a less good valorisation of the products on the market can call into question the profitability of these activities. Similarly, technical improvements could be made on these farms where farmers sometimes admit to neglecting certain workshops in order to concentrate on others.


EPrint Type:Report
Keywords:Mixed livestock, risk management, sensitivity, climate change, modelling, subjective probability
Agrovoc keywords:
Language
Value
URI
English
modelling
http://aims.fao.org/aos/agrovoc/c_230ab86c
English
risk management
http://aims.fao.org/aos/agrovoc/c_37934
English
climate change adaptation
http://aims.fao.org/aos/agrovoc/c_1374567058134
English
mixed farming
http://aims.fao.org/aos/agrovoc/c_4873
English
livestock farms
http://aims.fao.org/aos/agrovoc/c_25247
Subjects: Farming Systems > Farm economics
Animal husbandry > Production systems > Beef cattle
Animal husbandry > Production systems > Sheep and goats
Research affiliation: European Union > CORE Organic Cofund > Mix-Enable
France > INRAe - Institut national de recherche pour l’agriculture, l’alimentation et l’environnement
Horizon Europe or H2020 Grant Agreement Number:1880
Deposited By: Mosnier, Dr Claire
ID Code:42975
Deposited On:16 Dec 2021 13:49
Last Modified:16 Dec 2021 13:49
Document Language:English
Status:Unpublished
Refereed:Not peer-reviewed

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