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Dernière mise à jour : Mai 2018

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Herbivore production farms and systems : evolution and questions

INRA Prod. Anim., 5 (1), 59-85.


INRA Laboratoire d’économie de l’élevage, Theix - 63122 Saint Genès Champanelle

* INRA Laboratoire d’économie et sociologie rurales, 78850 Thiuerual-Grignon
** INRA Laboratoire d’économie et sociologie rurales, 2 Place Viala, 34060 Montpellier cedex 1


Considerable development in French herbivore farms have occurred in the last 20 years, due to the influence of demography, technological innovation, E.E.C. Agricultural policies and general economic of which international exchange is one of the most decisive points for the agricultural sector and the food industry. This article retraces the large changes in size of bovine and ovine milk and meat sectors and the transformation of production systems. For cattle, the establishment of a milk quota in 1984 was the turning point at which began the acceleration of the restructuration of the milk sector. This had a profound effect on the meat industry. With ovine production, the establishment of the European Regulation in 1980 meant that French production went from being in expansion to being in recession. The future will depend on 4 essential factors : 
- retirement in the near future of a large number of farmers without successors which will leave large areas of land free, potentially more than 1/4 of the total. The question of conditions in which this land could be used by the remaining farmers should be studied. 
- PAC reform may radically modify the conception of production systems, notably with extensification and respect to land. 
- The influence of the food industry and consumers will increase, with greater demands to farmers, for quality production and even for the farming techniques used. 
- The farmers themselves, notably the young ones, will seek to satisfy new objectives. They will want to improve their working conditions in addition to maintaining their living standards.

Four research objectives for herbivores farmers may be envisaged for the future : 
- to maintain the competitiveness of bovine production. 
- to better adapt production to demand, quantitatively in volume and in time, and overall, with changes in consumer preference. 
- develop increasingly diversified production systems, capeable of valorizing varied environments. 
- to cope with larger herds, in order to better human productivity, which will be the most determining factor in the future.

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