In this study dairy farms with a care activity were compared with dairy farms with a modernisation strategy. The aim of the study is to see if there is a difference in economic profitability and future prospects in different development strategies and what the motivations for starting care farm are.
Dutch farmers use different development strategies continue farming. Multifunctional agriculture is a strategy different than the normal modernization strategy (scale-enlargement, intensification, specialization). Multifunctional activities can be defined in three different categories. Deepening, broadening and regrounding are three ways to use the available labour on or off-farm for other means than the main agricultural activity. Broadening is the use of available labour on-farm for other means than main agricultural production. Care farming is one of the activities that is clustered in the broadening part. In this study dairy farms with a care activity were compared with dairy farms with a modernisation strategy. The aim of the study is to see if there is a difference in economic profitability and future prospects in different development strategies and what the motivations for starting care farm are.
This study consisted of data collected from personal interviews (9 care farms and 9 conventional farms) and an online questionnaire (9 conventional farms). The results showed that differences between care farms are large, in type and number of clients. Familiarity with, and vision and ambition about regular care are important motives for the start of a care farm. Economic motives are not mentioned but in most cases the care activity has grown to an important source of income. The income distribution was different between the two groups of farmers. Two care farms get more than 75% of their income out of the agricultural part of their farm. Three care farmers get 50% or more of their income from the care activity. With conventional farms, five farms get more than 75% of their income out of their agricultural part.
Vision & ambition (81%) and location (56% ) are the factors that were mentioned by both groups of farmers as an important factor for the development of the farm. Maintaining income and specialisation of the farmer are two factors that were important for conventional farmers but are less mentioned by care farmers. Care farms did not increase in farm size since the start of the care activity. Conventional farms did not increase in hectares but there is a significant difference in the number of cows on the farm with the care farmers group. Care farming is a broad multifunctional activity that is hard to catch in one definition. Even care farms with a same background and a same main agricultural activity can be completely different. Even within the group of care farmers there are reservations between `small` and ´large` care farms. These reservations were mainly about personal attention, special daytime activities and professional approach.
Care farming as a development strategy could be a good alternative to give a farm future prospective. No differences were found in future prospective between conventional and care farmers. Care farms have a larger number of FTE’s on their farm in comparison with the conventional dairy farms.
Student: PJG Collombon
Supervisor: dr ir S Oosting