What Does Ecological Farming Mean for Farm Labour?

Davidova, Sophia, Hostiou, Nathalie, Alebaki, Maria, Bailey, Alastair, Bakucs, Zoltan, Duval, Julie, Gouta, Penelope, Henderson, Stuart, Jacquot, Anne‐Lise et al (2022) What Does Ecological Farming Mean for Farm Labour? EuroChoices . ISSN 1478-0917

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1111/1746-692X.12366


Summary: Ecological farming, such as organic and low‐input farming, is gaining popularity in the public discourse. One question is how this type of farming may impact farm labour from a socio‐economic point of view. The article first discusses how low‐input farming practices (i.e. with lower reliance on inputs derived from fossil fuels) may affect the economic returns to labour, measured as the farm’s revenue per hour of labour input, on data from the Farm Accountancy Data Network (FADN) in 2004‐‐2015 for four European countries. Returns to labour appear to be highest at the two extremes – very low‐input farms and highly intensive farms. Farms in the low‐input end of the spectrum are in the minority, while the overwhelming majority of farms are intensive and have internal economic incentives to intensify further. The article also analyses how working conditions differ between organic and conventional dairy farms in two European countries based on interviews with farmers in 2019. Results show that all dimensions of working conditions are affected by being an organic farm or not, but this is not the only factor. There are many influences on working conditions, such as the production context and workforce composition.

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