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Dernière mise à jour : Mai 2018

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The French dairy sector at a crossroads: achievements and prospects

INRA Prod Anim 26(2) 77-100


1 INRA, UR1134 LERECO, F-44316 Nantes, France

2 Institut de l’Elevage, Département Economie, F-75012 Paris, France


Given the planned abolition of milk quotas in 2015, the French dairy sector is going through a crucial period in its history, mingling doubts and hopes. The rapid decline in the number of dairy farms (at 5 % per year over the previous decade), the increased price volatility, the negative environmental implications of the intensification, the increasing competition from neighbouring countries (including Germany) have cast doubt on the French players as to the strategies to be deployed to effectively prepare the future. The French dairy sector has nevertheless many assets that will help it rebound: a high level of consumption of dairy products per capita per year (also due to an exceptional diversity of processed products); a wide variety of echnical models, with a historical adaptation of farms to natural conditions (climate, agronomic potential…); a high potential of production development due to a low population density in many rural areas, the abundance of available forage areas and possible substitutions between agricultural productions; some improvements in scientific knowledge and technological know-how in enterprises; some French firms are leaders at the international level; a government commitment in favour of new contractual relationships between producers and firms in order to manage supply without the milk quota system. On the eve of the abolition of milk quotas, the aim of this paper was first to propose an analysis of the current economic situation of the French dairy sector (strengths, weaknesses, diversity of models) and, second, to examine the conditions of the implementation of the contractualisation system.

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