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Book of Abstracts

11th IFOAM
Scientific Conference
11-15 August 1996
Copenhagen, Denmark

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Economic aspects of conversion of organic livestock farms S25

Medcalf , Rebecca; Midmore, Peter; Lampkin, Nic.; Padel, Susanne

Welsh Institute of Rural Studies, University of Wales, Penglais,Aberystwyth, Dyfed, Wales, United Kingdom. SY23 3DD.

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This paper explores the economic issues that arise from the conversion of different farms with grazing livestock from conventional to organic practices. The objective of this work was to create farm level models of different types and to evaluate the effects of various conversion strategies. The research is part of a wider EC funded project on different technical and economic aspects of the conversion process of grazing livestock systems to organic farming.

Using data collected from livestock farms converting in Britain, the Netherlands, Germany and Ireland, five models were created to represent the main farm types. These were (i) low intensity beef suckler (ca. 50 ha); (ii) mixed dairy with a low average milk yield (ca. 50 ha); (iii) specialist dairy with a high average milk yield (ca. 25 ha); (iv) larger specialist dairy (ca. 100 ha) and (v) large mixed dairy/arable ( 200 ha). Physical and financial data from monitored farms of similar type were used in a case study type approach to determine the broad structure of each model, supplemented by detailed information from conventional and organic standard data. The models were based on individual enterprise gross margins and whole farm fixed costs in a budgeting approach. Three scenarios simulated different conversion strategies (single-step, slow and fast staged conversion) and the effects of converting with and without an organic aid scheme. Further issues which influence the conversion process were also examined, for example, reductions in forage output and the resultant effect that this had at the farm level. The results showed that the size and type of farm, including the level of intensity prior to conversion, had a wide range of impacts on a number of financial and physical factors, depending on the route to certification chosen.

S. Padel, B. Medcalf, P.Midmore, N.Lampkin and L.Langstaff (1996): The economics of conversion and models of the optimal converison strategy for organic livestock farming in Europe. In: Final report submitted to the EU:Organic livestock farming: nutritional, environmental and economic implications of conversion (AIR3-CT92 0776) (McNeidhe, F. ed), Wexford,Ireland.