The article contains a suggestion for examining planned investments in terms of their profitability (an ex ante evaluation). Since for the average Swiss farm the remuneration of family labour is far more important than the remuneration of equity capital, interest is primarily focused on the change in either labour utilisation per hour or the actually realised hourly wage. This is determined in each case with a calculation before and after the investment, which requires a cost/ performance calculation on a full-cost basis in both cases. The approach is illustrated by means of an average commercial dairy farm that is converting its tied-housing system into loose housing, increasing its capacity by seven places to a total of 30 cow places in the process. Assuming full utilisation and a constant milk price, the investment enables an increase in labour utilisation of around CHF 4 per hour to be attained.
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.