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Local versus Global Environmental Performance of Dairying and Their Link to Economic Performance: A Case Study of Swiss Mountain Farms

Author

Listed:
  • Nina Repar

    () (Farm Economics Research Group, Agroscope, Institute for Sustainability Sciences ISS, Tänikon 1, Ettenhausen 8356, Switzerland
    Computer Applications and Business Management in Agriculture, Institute of Farm Management, University of Hohenheim, Schloß, Osthof-Süd, Stuttgart 70593, Germany)

  • Pierrick Jan

    () (Farm Economics Research Group, Agroscope, Institute for Sustainability Sciences ISS, Tänikon 1, Ettenhausen 8356, Switzerland)

  • Thomas Nemecek

    () (Life Cycle Assessment Research Group, Agroscope, Institute for Sustainability Sciences ISS, Reckenholzstrasse 191, Zurich 8046, Switzerland)

  • Dunja Dux

    () (Farm Economics Research Group, Agroscope, Institute for Sustainability Sciences ISS, Tänikon 1, Ettenhausen 8356, Switzerland)

  • Martina Alig Ceesay

    () (Life Cycle Assessment Research Group, Agroscope, Institute for Sustainability Sciences ISS, Reckenholzstrasse 191, Zurich 8046, Switzerland)

  • Reiner Doluschitz

    () (Computer Applications and Business Management in Agriculture, Institute of Farm Management, University of Hohenheim, Schloß, Osthof-Süd, Stuttgart 70593, Germany)

Abstract

Complying with the carrying capacity of local and global ecosystems is a prerequisite to ensure environmental sustainability. Based on the example of Swiss mountain dairy farms, the goal of our research was firstly to investigate the relationship between farm global and local environmental performance. Secondly, we aimed to analyse the relationship between farm environmental and economic performance. The analysis relied on a sample of 56 Swiss alpine dairy farms. For each farm, the cradle-to-farm-gate life cycle assessment was calculated, and the quantified environmental impacts were decomposed into their on- and off-farm parts. We measured global environmental performance as the digestible energy produced by the farm per unit of global environmental impact generated from cradle-to-farm-gate. We assessed local environmental performance by dividing farm-usable agricultural area by on-farm environmental impact generation. Farm economic performance was measured by work income per family work unit, return on equity and output/input ratio. Spearman’s correlation analysis revealed no significant relationship, trade-offs or synergies between global and local environmental performance indicators. Interestingly, trade-offs were observed far more frequently than synergies. Furthermore, we found synergies between global environmental and economic performance and mostly no significant relationship between local environmental and economic performance. The observed trade-offs between global and local environmental performance mean that, for several environmental issues, any improvement in global environmental performance will result in deterioration of local environmental performance and vice versa. This finding calls for systematic consideration of both dimensions when carrying out farm environmental performance assessments.

Suggested Citation

  • Nina Repar & Pierrick Jan & Thomas Nemecek & Dunja Dux & Martina Alig Ceesay & Reiner Doluschitz, 2016. "Local versus Global Environmental Performance of Dairying and Their Link to Economic Performance: A Case Study of Swiss Mountain Farms," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(12), pages 1-19, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:8:y:2016:i:12:p:1294-:d:84868
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Garnett, Tara, 2011. "Where are the best opportunities for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the food system (including the food chain)?," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(S1), pages 23-32.
    2. Garnett, Tara, 2011. "Where are the best opportunities for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the food system (including the food chain)?," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(Supplemen), pages 23-32, January.
    3. Thomassen, M.A. & Dolman, M.A. & van Calker, K.J. & de Boer, I.J.M., 2009. "Relating life cycle assessment indicators to gross value added for Dutch dairy farms," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(8-9), pages 2278-2284, June.
    4. Mouron, Patrik & Scholz, Roland W. & Nemecek, Thomas & Weber, Olaf, 2006. "Life cycle management on Swiss fruit farms: Relating environmental and income indicators for apple-growing," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(3), pages 561-578, June.
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    1. repec:gam:jsusta:v:10:y:2018:i:8:p:2940-:d:164512 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    sustainable agriculture; environmental sustainability; farm local environmental performance; farm global environmental performance; farm economic performance; life cycle assessment (LCA);

    JEL classification:

    • Q - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics
    • Q0 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General
    • Q2 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q3 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q5 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products

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