In the framework of the project Opti-Milk of the Swiss College of Agriculture an ambitious but realisable planning and implementation concept was individually established for two groups of nine farms each following the high yield (HL) or the full grazing (VW) strategy. Both strategies showed a considerable potential for the sustainable improvement of the competitiveness of dairy production in the Swiss lowlands. For dairy production with a cost reduction potential of 40% as well as for the family farm as a whole, the improvements in economic sustainability are impressive. The high Swiss ecological standards can be met in spite of the increasing specialisation. A socially sustainable implementation is also possible, provided that the labour reduction potential is consistently used and the interests of the family are consciously considered. The consistent but individual implementation of the VW strategy can improve the liquidity and the work load very fast. From the economic point of view, the HL strategy, which is based on strong and under present Swiss conditions expensive growth, must be considered ambitious and risky for the first decade of its implementation. On the long term, the potential for a good competitiveness, even on the European level, is good for both strategies.
To balance their nutrient cycles, Swiss farms export surplus farmyard manure to farms with free uptake capacities or to composting and anaerobic digestion facilities. Between 2015 and 2020 the volumes of organic manure and recycled fertilisers transported rose significantly, with a consequent increase in transport costs.
Employment in the agricultural sector is declining in many European countries, especially in livestock farming. Direct payments can counter this trend and lead to the employment of more – especially female – family members on the farm.
Despite the current challenges of e.g. the war in Ukraine and climate change, the Swiss food sector is relatively resilient. This is the conclusion reached by Agroscope’s report on behalf of the Swiss Federal Office for National Economic Supply.