French farmers are better off by growing organic

photo credit: Andy Kelly

A recent study published in the journal Organic Agriculture shows that some French dairy farmers are transitioning to organic production to improve their livelihoods. The dairy industry has faced squeezes on the global market, offering many conventional farmers prices that are too low for them to recover their production costs. In this study, interviews of 20 dairy farmers in France revealed that farmers are transitioning to organic because the conventional market has been too volatile, and there is less consumer demand for conventional dairy. The farmers surveyed felt the organic market is more stable and offers higher prices for organic milk, which allows them to make more money with fewer cows. This reduces their workloads and improves their overall work-life balance. On top of access to better markets, these organic operations can focus more on producing on-farm feed, which reduces their dependency on off-farm feed inputs that can skyrocket in price without warning. Farmers noted that there would be challenges with transitioning to a new production style, but thought those would be manageable, especially considering all the benefits of switching to organic. Overall, the organic-transitioning dairy farmers felt this change was a good option for them to maintain viability in their family farms.