Sustainability levels in Irish dairy farming: a farm typology according to sustainable performance indicators

Feeding the world’s population in a sustainable manner is one of the key challenges facing the future of global agriculture. The recent removal of the milk quota regime in the European Union has prompted an expansionary phase in dairy farming, especially in Ireland. Achieving this expansion in a sustainable manner is crucial to the long-term survival and success of the Irish dairy sector. In this paper we examine the sustainability of Irish dairy farming, defining ‘sustainability’ as economically profitable, environmentally friendly and socially efficient. A typology of Irish dairy farms has been created using data on profitability, environmental efficiency and social integration derived from the Teagasc National Farm Survey. Economic, social and environmental performance indicators were determined and aggregated and then used in a multivariate analysis for the identification and classification of farm clusters. The purpose of this study to classify Irish dairy farms using performance indicators; thereby, assisting policy makers in identifying patterns in farm performance with a view to formulating more targeted policies. Two of the three clusters elicited from the analysis were similar in regards to their respective indicator scores. However, the remaining cluster was found to perform poorly in comparison. The results indicate a clear distinction between ‘good’ and ‘weak’ performers, and the positive relationship between the economic, environmental and social performance of Irish dairy farms is evident.

Issue Date:
Aug 01 2017
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Published in:
Studies in Agricultural Economics, Volume 119, Number 2
Page range:

 Record created 2017-08-25, last modified 2017-08-25

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