In the framework of the project Opti-Milk two groups of nine pioneer farms each were coached on different ways towards the common goal of a sustainable and competitive dairy production. The two groups followed different strategies: the high yield strategy (HL) and the low cost strategy (VW). At the start of the project, the pioneer farms hardly differed from a group of reference Swiss dairy farms, apart from the concentrate costs on the VW-farms and the milk quota on the HL-farms. An analysis of European top dairy farms indicates that farms successfully implementing the HL or the VW strategy achieve above average economic results. VW farms achieve high incomes with considerably lower quantities of milk than HL-farms. The Opti-Milk HL-farms have chosen a clear growth approach too. Nevertheless, the realisation of economies of scales is impeded by high growth costs and neutralised by sinking product prices. On the VW farms the effect of the clear-cut cost is retarded because existing infrastructure can often not be liquidated immediately. Nevertheless, a considerably decrease in labour demand can be observed.
Policies to reduce agricultural greenhouse gas emissions are more effective and more efficient if they are set at the regional level and not at the level of individual farms. This can help achieve climate targets.
Global food availability is expected to remain stable in the medium term. Food security challenges in Switzerland include the decline in agricultural land area per capita, higher incidence of extreme weather events and increased pressure from pests.
Different cultural backgrounds lead to different uptake of biodiversity agri-environmental schemes at the inner-Swiss French-German language border. Economic policy incentives could mitigate culture-driven behavioral differences.