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Dernière mise à jour : Mai 2018

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Dairy production in the European Atlantic Arc

INRA Prod.Anim. 21(5), 427-440


The regions of the « Atlantic arc », which are involved in the « Green Dairy » project, realize nearly the quarter of European dairy production. During the last two decades, the decrease of the number of dairy farms was particularly intense in the Spanish and English areas. In France, the enlargement of farms was less important due to public choices (measurements in favour of young farmers and management of milk quotas). Although the dairy farms of the « Atlantic arc » are located in the same climatic zone (under oceanic influence), they pri-vilege varied food systems and a more or less intensive use of fodder surfaces. Because of limited surfaces, the Portuguese and Spanish farms buy important quantities of animal food and are often intensive. The farms of the west of France, which frequently develop ensiled fodder, face important environmental problems, because this region produces many animal productions (pigs and poultry). Food cost is low but they are penalized by high costs of mechanization. The Irish and English units, for which food is provided mainly by grass, have a low production cost. However, they are penalized by a weak milk price and they invest little. The dairy farms of the « Atlantic arc » are thus not all equal when facing the new challenges : the future of the milk quota system (which raises important territorial stakes in France) ; the increase in the price of fossil energy (which could involve a rise in the price of cereals, unfavorable to the food systems of the south) ; the reinforcement of environmental constraints (which implies investments).

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