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Communication dans un congrès

Quantity versus quality, and profit versus values ? Do these inherent tensions inevitably play in organic farming

Abstract : Organic Farming (OF) is based on 4 principles: ecology, health, care, and fairness (Ifoam, 2005). Considering the first principle, ecological engineering suggests that the relationship between short term yield and sustainability will inevitably be negative (Weiner, 2003). As for economics, ecological engineering perspective on agricultural production sees alternative production strategies in terms of dilemmas or “trade-offs”. Beyond formal oppositions or potential bifurcations among production patterns, we assume that the following two approaches can converge: On the one hand, OF is often considered as not been productive enough, and the supposed systematically lower yields following conversion are pointed as an obstacle for farmers adopting OF. However, yield increases would create a conflict of objectives in OF, shifting it from an ecologically-based farming through an intensification process relying on external inputs, which is so called “conventionalisation” of OF (Darnhofer et al., 2009). On the other hand, in conventional farming, attempts to maintain yields close to their current high levels while improving the sustainability are manifold. Such low-input or ecological strategies can be related to “organification”, as a counterpart of “conventionalisation” (Rosin & Campbell, 2009) Likewise, social scientists show that possible conflicts between organic institutions (which claim ethical values) and the ones from conventional agriculture (which argue that sustainability cannot omit profitability) can be creative, and could lead to a “mutual adaptation” (Moschitz et al., 2005). Conversion in Organic Farming may appear difficult because (i) of transitional costs, and lack of knowledge of new production methods, (ii) of a temporal gap of the response of the ecosystem managed in an ecological way (for instance fertility of soil). Kilcher and Zundel (2007) show it takes years after a conversion to get back to the yield which was observed with the conventional practices, and this could take all the more time as the previous system was more intensive. We have shown that conversion is a global transition pathway, which can take far longer than the administrative time of two or three years (Lamine & Bellon, 2009). We intend to analyze the evolution of the agro-economical performances of OF systems in the South East of France on a large period. A database in the Provence Region is used to compare classical economical performances (profit, amount of employment) from 1999 to 2008. We construct an exaustive database (crossing data from the MSA) by equating groups on covariates between conventional and organic farmers to reduce selection bias (Rosenbaum & Rubin, 1983). We cross this quantitative approach with a qualitative one, based on interviews with selected farmers, to measure classical performances such as yields, and criteria such as the degrees of “diversification versus specialization”, and of “autonomy versus integration” in order to take into account the values. The sampling is reasonedthanks to the analysis of the database, focusing on fruits and vegetables systems for the inquiries. One methodological issue at stake is to take into account the temporality of the changes in practices. We search for the multiple combinations of performances criteria, exhibiting successful or innovative “trade-offs”, beyond the basic dichotomous distinction “ethical versus opportunists”. This double approach will contribute to assess OF as a value-laden agriculture, going beyond classical agro-economic performances and reporting the inherent tension between values and profit
Type de document :
Communication dans un congrès
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Déposant : Migration Prodinra <>
Soumis le : jeudi 4 juin 2020 - 00:26:29
Dernière modification le : mardi 30 juin 2020 - 17:13:45


  • HAL Id : hal-02757413, version 1
  • PRODINRA : 39197



Natacha Sautereau, Ghislain Geniaux, Stephane Bellon, Morgane Petitgenet, Jerome Lepoutre. Quantity versus quality, and profit versus values ? Do these inherent tensions inevitably play in organic farming. ISDA 2010 Innovation and Sustainable Development in Agriculture and Food, Jun 2010, Montpellier, France. ⟨hal-02757413⟩



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