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Long-term strategies and flexibility of organic farmers in southeastern France

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Since the mid-1990s, organic farming has emerged from its marginal and niche production status to become a serious developmental route for more sustainable agriculture befitting current ecological and health challenges. Nonetheless, market fluctuations and changes in the regulatory context combined with technical risks have resulted in the emergence of different points of instability within organic agriculture. On family farms, sustainability is largely guaranteed by a broad range of strategies. Drawing upon a detailed case study of nine organic farms followed up over the course of 14 years, this paper argues that different forms of farm flexibility employed during and since this period have allowed farms to remain viable. It concludes that the diversification of farm production and activities, off-farm employment and farm household commitment to organic agriculture, together with professional membership and social networking, contribute significantly to farm viability. Finally, this paper draws up different farm strategies to support the local development of organic agriculture.

Keywords: farming system; flexibility; organic agriculture; strategy

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3763/ijas.2010.0497

Publication date: November 1, 2010

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