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Sustainability 2018, 10(8), 2940; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10082940

Factors Affecting Global versus Local Environmental and Economic Performance of Dairying: A Case Study of Swiss Mountain Farms

1
Farm Economics Research Group, Agroscope, Research Division Competitiveness and System Evaluation, Tänikon 1, 8356 Ettenhausen, Switzerland
2
Computer Applications and Business Management in Agriculture, Institute of Farm Management, University of Hohenheim, Schloß, Osthof-Süd, 70593 Stuttgart, Germany
3
Life Cycle Assessment Research Group, Agroscope, Research Division Agroecology and Environment, Reckenholzstrasse 191, 8046 Zurich, Switzerland
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 19 July 2018 / Revised: 14 August 2018 / Accepted: 15 August 2018 / Published: 19 August 2018
(This article belongs to the Section Sustainable Agriculture, Food and Wildlife)
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Abstract

Improving the sustainability of the dairy food chain requires a simultaneous improvement in global and local environmental performance, as well as in the economic performance of dairy farms. We investigated the effect of different structural, farm management, socio-demographic, technological and natural-environment-related factors on the economic and environmental performance of dairying. Our analysis relied on a case study of 56 Swiss alpine dairy farm observations, for which cradle-to-farm gate life cycle assessments and farm accountancy data were combined. The data refer to the years 2006 to 2008. The effect of the selected factors on farms’ economic and environmental performance was analysed by means of non-parametric statistical approaches. The results revealed the existence of some factors presenting synergies and several factors showing trade-offs in the enhancement of farm global environmental, local environmental and economic performance. More generally, the promotion of farm global environmental performance and farm economic performance was shown to be synergetic whereas the enhancement of farm global and local environmental performance turned out to be mostly antinomic. However, some factors, namely organic farming, higher agricultural education, silage-free milk production, and also, to a weaker extent, full-time farming, larger farm size and lower intensity of cattle concentrates use, showed a potential to bring simultaneous improvements in the global and local environmental performance as well as the economic performance of dairy farming. Policy-makers should be aware of the complexity of the joint improvement of farm economic and environmental performance and only promote factors capable of synergistically enhancing the environmental and economic performance of dairy farming. View Full-Text
Keywords: sustainable agriculture; dairy farming; environmental performance; economic performance; Switzerland sustainable agriculture; dairy farming; environmental performance; economic performance; Switzerland
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).
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Repar, N.; Jan, P.; Nemecek, T.; Dux, D.; Doluschitz, R. Factors Affecting Global versus Local Environmental and Economic Performance of Dairying: A Case Study of Swiss Mountain Farms. Sustainability 2018, 10, 2940.

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