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Dernière mise à jour : Mai 2018

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Labour productivity and economy in herbivore rearing: concepts, analysis and stakes

INRA Prod Anim 25(2) 193-210


1 Institut de l’Elevage, BP 50, F-42270 Saint-Priest-en-Jarez, France

2 INRA, UMR1213 Herbivores, F-63122 Saint-Genès-Champanelle, France

3 Clermont Université, VetAgro Sup, UMR Herbivores, BP 10448, F-63000 Clermont-Ferrand, France

4 UFR Agriculture comparée et développement agricole, AgroParisTech, 16 rue Claude Bernard, F-75231 Paris,  France

5 AFOCG de l’Ain, 1 rue Robert Schuman, F-01000 Bourg-en-Bresse, France

6 Institut de l’Elevage, 149 rue de Bercy, F-75595 Paris, France


Labour productivity in agriculture has grown faster than the other sectors of the economy over the last fifty years. Volume production of the branch was multiplied by 2.2 from 1955 to 2010, thanks to the increasing use of input and a more important mobilization of capital (equipment and buildings). At the same time the agricultural labour force decreased from 31 to 3.4 of total employment. Today, subsidies have a decisive role in the upholding of farm income per worker. The analysis of labour productivity for cattle, sheep and goat productions shows that the economic indicators are not necessarily linked to an increase in physical productivity. There are differences in physical productivity of labour between systems and production sectors. In a favourable economic situation, systems with high physical productivity of labour get the best income, but when the economic situation becomes unfavorable these systems appear financially weak and reveal their low resilience capability. The consistency of the production system and the optimization of means of production always appear as a determinant of economic performance. The distribution of productivity gain between the different decisive for farm orientation.