Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

Reversion from organic to conventional agriculture: A review

  • Henriette Sahm (a1), Jürn Sanders (a2), Hiltrud Nieberg (a2), Gesine Behrens (a3), Heike Kuhnert (a3), Renate Strohm (a4) and Ulrich Hamm (a1)...

Abstract

Over the past 10 years, the organic sector has expanded continuously in Europe due to policy support and a growing market demand for organic products. In line with this development, many farmers converted to organic farming each year. Nevertheless, the total number of organic farms has not increased constantly in Europe. In several countries, the absolute number of organic farms actually decreased in some years of the past decade. Some of the deregistered farmers gave up completely; others reverted to conventional agriculture. Against this background, this article aims (i) to give an overview of the extent of reversion to conventional agriculture in Europe based on statistics, (ii) to conceptualize the decision to revert in the form of a theoretical model, (iii) to compare farmers’ reasons to revert to conventional farming based on existing studies, and (iv) to identify further research needs. The importance of reversions to conventional agriculture is difficult to determine with the existing data, especially as in most cases it is not recorded as to what happened to the farms after deregistering from organic certification. The data nevertheless show that there are large fluctuations in the organic sector with many farmers entering and exiting each year. In order to reveal the farmers’ reasons for deregistering, various qualitative as well as quantitative surveys have been carried out already. For most farmers, the decision to revert is a result of different factors. Reasons for the reversion of their farms can be classified into economic motives, difficulties regarding certification and control, problems with organic production techniques as well as the farms’ macro environment. In most cases, however, economic reasons played a main role. Suggestions for organic legislation bodies, advisory services and policy makers are derived out of the findings. A deeper understanding of the influencing aspects regarding reversions and the necessary changes in the organic sector to avoid them should be an important objective of forthcoming research.

Copyright

Corresponding author

*Corresponding author: h.sahm@uni-kassel.de

References

Hide All
1Willer, H. and Kilcher, L. (eds) 2011. The World of Organic Agriculture. Statistic and Emerging Trends 2011. IFOAM, Bonn FiBL, Frick.
2Eurostat 2011. Organic Farming Statistics. Number of Certified Registered Organic Operators [food_act2].
3Hamm, U., Poehls, A., and Schmidt, J. 1996. Analyse der Beratung von ökologisch wirtschaftenden Landwirten in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. Ergebnisse einer schriftlichen Befragung aller Öko-Betriebe und Schlußfolgerungen für die Verbesserung des Beratungsangebotes. Schriftenreihe der Fachhochschule Neubrandenburg Reihe A, Neubrandenburg.
4Risgaard, M.-L., Langer, V., and Frederiksen, P. 2006. Organic Farming – Structure, Production and Nature Management. The Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University, KVL; National Environmental Research Institute, DMU.
5Kirner, L. and Schneeberger, W. 2000. Österreich: Wie kann der biologische Landbau gesichert und ausgeweitet werden? Ökologie and Landbau 28:3033.
6Kirner, L., Vogel, S., and Schneeberger, W. 2005. Ausstiegsabsichten und tatsächliche Ausstiegsgründe von Biobauern und Biobäuerinnen in Österreich - Analyse von Befragungsergebnissen. In: Ende der Nische: Beiträge zur 8. Wissenschaftstagung Ökologischer Landbau. University Press, Kassel.
7Darnhofer, I., Eder, M., Schmid, J., and Schneeberger, W. 2005. Ausstieg aus der ÖPUL-Maßnahme biologische Wirtschaftsweise. In: Ende der Nische: Beiträge zur 8. Wissenschaftstagung Ökologischer Landbau. University Press, Kassel, p. 467470.
8Kaltoft, P. and Risgaard, M.-L. 2006. Has organic farming modernized itself out of business? Reverting to conventional methods in Denmark. In Holt, G.C. (ed.). Sociological Perspectives of Organic Agriculture. CABI, Wallingford, p. 126141.
9Läpple, D. 2010. Adoption and abandonment of organic farming: An empirical investigation of the Irish drystock sector. Journal of Agricultural Economics 61:697714.
10Flaten, O., Lien, G., Koesling, M., and Løes, A.-K. 2010. Norwegian farmers ceasing certified organic production: Characteristics and reasons. Journal of Environmental Management 91:27172726.
11Reissig, L., Ferjani, A., and Zimmermann, A. 2009. Ausstieg aus dem Biolandbau - steigende Tendenz in der Schweiz. AGRARForschung 16:124128.
12Rigby, D. and Young, T. 2000. Why Do Some Agricultural Producers Abandon Organic Production Systems? An Exploration of UK Data. Discussion Paper 0015. Centre for Agriculture Food and Resource Economics, School of Economic Studies, Victoria University, Manchester.
13Klonsky, K. and Smith, M.D. 2002. Entry and exit inCalifornia's organic farming sector. In Hall, D.C. and Moffitt, L.J. (eds). Economics of Pesticides, Sustainable Food Production, and Organic Food Markets. JAI, Amsterdam, p. 139165.
14Sierra, L., Klonsky, K., Strochlic, R., Brodt, S., and Molinar, R. 2008. Factors Associated with Deregistration among Organic Farmers in California. California Institute for Rural Studies.
15Mintzberg, H., Raisinghani, D. and Théoret, A. 1976. The structure of unstructured decision processes. Administrative Sciences Quarterly 21:79104.
16Padel, S. 2001. Conversion to organic farming: A typical example of the diffusion of an innovation? Sociologia Ruralis 40:4061.
17Cranfield, J., Henson, S., and Holliday, J. 2010. The motives, benefits, and problems of conversion to organic production. Agriculture and Human Values 27:291306.
18Mzoughi, N. 2011. Farmers adoption of integrated crop protection and organic farming: Do moral and social concerns matter? Ecological Economics 70:15361545.
19Koesling, M., Flaten, O., and Lien, G. 2008. Factors influencing the conversion to organic farming in Norway. International Journal of Agricultural Resources, Governance and Ecology 7:78.
20Best, H. 2010. Environmental concern and the adoption of organic agriculture. Society and Natural Resources 23:451468.
21Dabbert, S., Häring, A.M., and Zanoli, R. 2004. Organic Farming. Policies and Prospects. Zed Books, London.
22Flaten, O., Lien, G., Ebbesvik, M., Koesling, M., and Valle, P.S. 2006. Do the new organic producers differ from the ‘old guard’? Empirical results from Norwegian dairy farming. Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems 21:174182.
23Zander, K., Nieberg, H., and Offermann, F. 2008. Financial relevance of organic farming payments for Western and Eastern European organic farms. Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems 23:5361.
24Daugbjerg, C., Tranter, R., Hattam, C., and Holloway, G. 2011. Modelling the impacts of policy on entry into organic farming: Evidence from Danish–UK comparisons, 1989–2007. Land Use Policy 28:413422.
25De Cock, L. 2005. Determinants of organic farming conversion. In Proceedings of the XIth EAAE Congress of the European Association of Agricultural Economists. The Future of Rural Europe in the Global Agri-Food System, August 24–27, 2005, Copenhagen, Denmark.
26Mann, S. and Gairing, M. 2011. ‘Loyals’ and ‘Optimizers’: Shedding light on the decision for or against organic agriculture among Swiss farmers. Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics. Available at Web site http://www.springerlink.com/content/c315246047412hp0/fulltext.pdf (accessed April 17, 2012).
27Schneeberger, W., Schachner, M., and Kirner, L. 2002. Gründe für die Aufgabe der biologischen Wirtschaftsweise in Österreich. Die Bodenkultur 53:127132.
28Kirner, L., Vogel, S., and Schneeberger, W. 2006. Intended and actual behavior of organic farmers in Austria after a five-year commitment period. Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems 21:95105.
29Schermer, M. 2001. Gründe für den Bio-Ausstieg in Tirol. In: Von Leit-Bildern zu Leit-Linien: Beiträge zur 6. Wissenschaftstagung zum Ökologischen Landbau. Köster, Berlin, p. 8790.
30Schermer, M. 2005. Die Motivation von Bauern zur Teilnahme an der ÖPUL - Maßnahme ‘biologischer Landbau’ am Beispiel Tirols. In: Jahrbuch der Österreichischen Gesellschaft für Agrarökonomie: Beiträge der 10. ÖGA-Jahrestagung zum Thema ‘Agrarökonomie zwischen Vision und Realität’. Facultas, Wien, p. 7785.
31Schmid, J. 2005. Der Ausstieg aus dem Biolandbau in Österreich. Ergebnisse einer Befragung. Diplomarbeit. Universität für Bodenkultur, Wien.
32Kaltoft, P. and Risgaard, M.-L. 2004. Notat til Det Økologiske Fødevareråd om økologiske landmænds tilbagelægning til konventionelt landbrug. Not published.
33Risgaard, M.-L., Kaltoft, P., and Frederiksen, P. 2005. Drivkræfter bag landmænds til- og fravalg af den økologiske driftsform. Available at Web site http://www.foejo.dk/enyt2/enyt/dec05/landmand.html (accessed April 17, 2012).
34Ploomi, A., Luik, A., and Kurg, A. 2006. Why do organic farmers quit in Estonia? Joint Organic Congress. Odense, Denmark, May 30, 2006.
35Gambelli, D. and Bruschi, V. 2010. A Bayesian network to predict the probability of organic farms’ exit from the sector: A case study from Marche, Italy. Computers and Electronics in Agriculture 71:2231.
36Lien, G., Flaten, O., Koesling, M., and Løes, A.-K. 2008. Utmelding av norske øko-bønder - hva er årsakene? Resultater fra en spørreundersøkelse høsten 2007. Diskusjonsnotat Nr. 2008-1: NILF.
37Koesling, M., Loes, A.-K., Flaten, O., and Lien, G. 2008. Dropping organic certification—effects on organic farming in Norway. In Cultivating the Future Based on Science: Proceedings of the Second Scientific Conference of the International Society of Organic Agriculture Research (ISOFAR) held at the 16th IFOAM Organic World Congress, ISOFAR, Bonn, p. 378381.
38Koesling, M., Løes, A.-K., Flaten, O., and Lien, G. 2008. Structural changes in organic farming in Norway, and farmers’ reasons for opting out. In 1st Scientific Conference within the framework of the 8th European Summer Academy on Organic Farming, Lednice na Moravě, Czech Republic, September 3, 2008.
39Løes, A.-K., Koesling, M., Flaten, O., and Lien, G. 2008. Dropping Organic Certification—Effects on Organic Farming in Norway, Modena, Italy, June 16, 2008.
40Koesling, M. and Løes, A.-K. 2009. Ausstieg aus der zertifiziert ökologischen Landwirtschaft in Norwegen - Motivation und anschließende Wirtschaftsweise. In: Werte - Wege - Wirkungen: Biolandbau im Spannungsfeld zwischen Ernährungssicherung, Markt und Klimawandel: Beiträge zur 10. Wissenschaftstagung Ökologischer Landbau. Köster, Berlin.
41Løes, A.-K., Flaten, O., Lien, G., and Koesling, M. 2009. Noen økobønder slutter - hva er årsakene? [Some organic farmers opt out, what are the reasons?]. In Bioforsk-konferansen 2009. Mat, vann og klima, p. 253254.
42Reissig, L., Ferjani, A., and Mann, S. 2009. Bio-Landbau Schweiz – wer sind die Aussteiger, wer die Einsteiger? 32. Informationstagung Agrarökonomie, Ettenhausen, Switzerland, September 17, 2009.
43Ferjani, A., Reissig, L., and Flury, C. 2010. Warum steigen Bergbetriebe aus dem biologischen Landbau aus? Poster 5. Bioforschungstagung: Aktuelles zum Biorind, Posieux, Switzerland, April 22, 2010.
44Ferjani, A., Reissig, L., and Mann, S. 2010. Biolandbau in der Schweiz - wer steigt aus, wer steigt ein? Agrarforschung Schweiz 1:142147.
45Ferjani, A., Reissig, L., and Mann, S. 2010. Ein- und Ausstieg im Biolandbau. ART, Ettenhausen, ART-Schriftenreihe 13. Available at Web site http://www.gbv.de/dms/zbw/638848873.pdf (accessed April 17, 2012).
46Rigby, D., Young, T., and Burton, M. 2001. The development of and prospects for organic farming in the UK. Food Policy 26:599613.
47Harris, F., Robinson, G.M., and Griffiths, I. 2008. A study of the motivations and influences on farmers’ decisions to leave the organic farming sector in the United Kingdom. In Robinson, G.M. (ed.). Sustainable Rural Systems. Ashgate, Aldershot, Hampshire, p. 99111.
48Strochlic, R. and Sierra, L. 2007. Conventional, Mixed and ‘Deregistered’ Organic Farmers: Entry Barriers and Reasons for Exiting Organic Production in California. California Institute for Rural Studies.
49Sierra, L., Klonsky, K., Strochlic, R., Brodt, S., and Molinar, R. 2008. Factors Associated with Deregistration Among Organic Farmers in California. Submitted to University of California SAREP.
50Koesling, M. and Løes, A.-K. 2009. Comparing Reasons for Opting Out in Austria, Denmark, Estonia and Norway. Presentation, Tartu, Estonia, August 25, 2009.
51Lampkin, N., Foster, C., and Padel, S. 1999. The Policy and Regulatory Environment for Organic Farming in Europe: Country Reports. Institut für Landwirtschaftl, Stuttgart (Hohenheim), Betriebslehre. Organic Farming in Europe: Economics and Policy 2.
52Padel, S. and Michelsen, J. 2001. Institutionelle Rahmenbedingungen der Ausdehnung des ökologischen Landbaus - Erfahrungen aus drei europäischen Ländern. Agrarwirtschaft 50:395399.
53Nieberg, H. and Kuhnert, H. 2006. Förderung des ökologischen Landbaus in Deutschland. Stand, Entwicklung und internationale Perspektive. FAL, Braunschweig, Landbauforschung Völkenrode Sonderheft 295.
54Schwarz, G., Nieberg, H., and Sanders, J. 2010. Organic farming support payments in the EU. Braunschweig: vTI. Landbauforschung Völkenrode Sonderheft 339.
55Gerrard, C.L. and Padel, S. 2011. Production costs across the EU in 2006. Organic Research Centre Bulletin 104:1213.
56Padel, S. (ed.) 2010. The European Regulatory Framework and its Implementation in Influencing Organic Inspection and Certification Systems in the EU. Deliverable 11. Organic Research Centre - Elm Farm, Newbury.
57Sanders, J., Offermann, F., and Nieberg, H. 2011. Wirtschaftlichkeit des ökologischen Landbaus in Deutschland unter veränderten agrarpolitischen Rahmenbedingungen. Johann Heinrich von Thünen-Institut, Braunschweig.
58Midmore, P., Padel, S., McCalman, H., Isherwood, J., Fowler, S., and Lampkin, N. 2001. Attitudes towards conversion to organic production systems: A study of farmers in England. Institute of Rural Sciences, University of Wales, Aberystwyth.

Keywords

Related content

Powered by UNSILO

Reversion from organic to conventional agriculture: A review

  • Henriette Sahm (a1), Jürn Sanders (a2), Hiltrud Nieberg (a2), Gesine Behrens (a3), Heike Kuhnert (a3), Renate Strohm (a4) and Ulrich Hamm (a1)...

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.