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Methods and Procedures for Building Sustainable Farming Systems
13; Page: 141 - 159

Converting Suckler Cattle Farming Systems to Organic Farming: A Method to Assess the Productive, Environmental and Economic Impacts

Patrick Veysset, Michel Lherm, Didier Bébin

INRA, UR1213 Herbivores, site de Theix, F-63122, Saint-Genès-Champanelle, France.


This chapter proposes a method for assessing the farming system adaptations required in converting to organic farming (OF) in three beef production systems employed in the Charolais area. The conversion to OF was simulated by coupling an economic optimisation model (“Opt’INRA”) with a model assessing non-renewable energy (NRE) consumption and greenhouse gas emissions (“PLANETE”). After adaptation of the production system, meat production decreased by 19–37%, depending on the initial level of intensification. The reduced use of inputs results in a 23–45% drop in non-renewable energy consumption per hectare and a 5–16% drop per ton of live weight produced. The shift to OF does significantly not affect gross GHG emissions per ton of live weight produced, but, taking into account carbon sequestration in grasslands, net GHG emissions could be lower for OF systems. Economically, the drop in productivity is not compensated by the gain in the meat selling price (+5% to +10%), gross farm product drops by 9–16%, and the lower use of inputs entails a strong drop in operational costs: −9% to −52%. Farm income falls more than 20% (−7% to −46%).

Keywords: Beef production; Organic farming; Greenhouse gas; Non-renewable energy; Economics; Farm model



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