The Swiss federal milk and meat market policy is due to undergo reform over the next few years. This article investigates the consequences of various policy scenarios on the basis of model calculations. The results clearly show that reducing milk-market support without modifying the direct payment system would lead to a decrease in dairy-cow livestock, and hence to a drop in milk and beef production. RGVE contributions (contributions for roughage- consuming animals) for dairy cows would counteract a decrease in milk production, even in the event of total abolition of milk-market support. Agricultural incomes, however, particularly in the mountain areas, would drop more sharply if milk-market support were abolished and RGVE contributions introduced, than in the case of a partial reduction with maintenance of the direct payment system.
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.