Swiss College of Agriculture, Zollikofen

Strategies for dairy farms in mountain areas

In the dairy project in mountainous areas (�Mountain Milk�) ran by the Swiss College of Agriculture a farm-specific strategic planning process had been carried out with 49 dairy farms during four visits on each farm. The predicted results for a planning interval of ten years (2004 to 2013) are promising and motivating.The chosen strategies are ambitious. But in the mutual planning process they were rated as feasible and realistic. The strategic scenario shows that an efficient dairy production in mountainous areas will remain possible and the economic situation of the family run farms can be improved. The development strategies chosen by farms in the five different regions of the mountain milk project in Switzerland differ considerably. Apart from the major approaches “growth” and “optimization”, which however have to be farm-specifically adapted and combined, there is a third approach for mountain farms: “value addition”. Dependant on the milk processor and his strategy, two major strategies for dairy production could be identified: The “value addition” approach is the basis fort the strategy “improved situation due to a higher milk price”. This is in line with the quality leadership strategy of the manufacturing units. The first aim for the dairy farm is helping to realize added value, not to reduce cost. The “growth” approach is categorized as the basis of the “economies of scale strategy”, in line with the cost leadership strategy of the processors. These dairy farms focussing on economies of scale are looking to reduce costs by growing and simplifying their production processes at first. However, out from the project case studies no general strategy-recipes for dairy producers in mountainous areas can be deflected. The operational and strategic patterns on an individual basis are differing very much. They are affected by the confrontation of the individual prerequisites along with the specific demands of the recipient / milk buyer and the different potentials of the studied regions.

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