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Duval J., Cournut S., Hostiou N. (2021). Livestock farmers’ working conditions in agroecological farming systems. A review. Agronomy for Sustainable Development, 41, 22, https://doi.org/10.1007/s13593-021-00679-y.
The livestock farming sector is under stress as fewer and fewer people are willing or able to become livestock farmers. Contributing to the decline in attractiveness of the profession are, among other factors, agricultural crises, higher consumer expectations, and difficult working conditions. Agroecology is a sustainable solution that can maintain livestock production and provide positive contributions to society without negatively affecting the environment. Moreover, in its search for social sustainability, agroecological farming could offer better working conditions to farmers and thus contribute to a sustainable future for the livestock farming sector. Here, we review research on livestock farmers’ working conditions in agroecological farming systems. This paper aims to give a comprehensive overview of the available research findings and the dimensions used to describe farmers’ working conditions. The major findings are the following: (i) relatively little published research is available; (ii) it is difficult to compare findings across studies as different dimensions are used to study working conditions and, in certain cases, detailed descriptions of the farming systems are not provided; (iii) certain dimensions were rarely addressed, such as farmers’ health, or work organization; and (iv) in general, farmers’ work is addressed as a component of environmental and economic analyses of the performance of agroecological livestock farming systems, using most often indicators on labor productivity and/or efficiency. Comprehensive multidimensional approaches to study working conditions are lacking, as are studies on the interactions and trade-offs between dimensions (e.g., workload, fulfillment, work organization). To study livestock farmers’ working conditions in agroecological farming systems, we recommend to use a comprehensive approach assessing different dimensions contributing to working conditions, combined with the description of farmers’ activities and work environment.

Bareille F., Zavalloni M., Raggi M., Viaggi D. (2021). Cooperative Management of Ecosystem Services: Coalition Formation, Landscape Structure and Policies. Environmental and Resource Economics, https://doi.org/10.1007/s10640-021-00563-z.
A growing body of literature shows that full-cooperation among farmers to manage productive ecosystem services would yield gains with respect to uncoordinated approaches. The public good feature of these ecosystem services may, however, hinder the emergence of a cooperative solution at the landscape scale. In this paper, we introduce in a coalition formation game a spatially-explicit bioeconomic model of fruit pollination, where pollinaton depends on the distance to the choosen location of natural habitats. We analyse: (i) which coalitions are stable; (ii) what benefits they provide; (iii) how cooperation depends on the initial landscape structure; and (iv) how policy instruments affect cooperation. The theoretical model presents the rationality of cooperation but, due to the detailed heterogeneity and complex spatial interactions among farms, we use a numerical example to determine the stable coalitions. We find that only small coalitions are stable and that the benefits of cooperation decrease when the spatial autocorrelation of fruit tree covers increase. Policy instruments can increase the interest for cooperation but per-hectare payments and minimum participation rules may reduce the habitat area at the margin (by decreasing the stability of coalitions). Price premium for the coalition members increase the habitat area but its budget-effectiveness decreases as the spatial autocorrelation of fruit tree covers increase.

Dakpo KH., Desjeux Y. and Latruffe L. (2021). sfaR: Stochastic Frontier Analysis using R. R package version 0.0.91, https://CRAN.R-project.org/package=sfaR.
Maximum likelihood estimation for stochastic frontier analysis (SFA) of production (profit) and cost functions. The package includes several distributions for the one-sided error term (i.e. Rayleigh, Gamma, Weibull, lognormal, uniform, generalized exponential and truncated skewed Laplace) as well as the latent class stochastic frontier model (LCM) as described in Dakpo et al. (2021) doi:10.1111/1477-9552.12422. Several possibilities in terms of optimization algorithms are proposed.

Candemir A., Duvaleix S., Latruffe L. (2021). Agricultural cooperatives and farm sustainability – A literature review. Journal of Economic Surveys, https://doi.org/10.1111/joes.12417.
We present a literature review of the role played by agricultural cooperatives in influencing farm sustainability. We first focus on the theoretical literature to highlight the various economic behaviours of cooperatives. Then we investigate all three dimensions of sustainability in developing and developed countries. We aim at linking the empirical findings to the theoretical understanding of cooperatives, in particular members’ heterogeneity. This paper shows that cooperatives play a non‐negligible role in farm economic sustainability and in the adoption of environmentally friendly practices, suggesting that both public policies and private initiatives in cooperatives may be complementary. As regards social sustainability, there are only a few studies existing on the role of agricultural cooperatives. The trade‐off between economic and environmental sustainability in cooperatives would need to be further investigated.

Heinrichs J., Jouan J., Pahmeyer C., Britz W. (2021). Integrated assessment of legume production challenged by European policy interaction: A case-study approach from French and German dairy farms”. Q Open, Volume 1, Issue 1, January 2021, qoaa011, https://doi.org/10.1093/qopen/qoaa011.
Legumes, which currently show low production levels in the European Union, can reduce negative environmental externalities of agricultural systems by lowering nitrogen (N) fertilization and increasing protein self-sufficiency. This has led to the introduction of coupled support in France, in contrast to Germany. However, the German implementation of the Nitrates Directive is more favorable for legumes. Our study assesses economic and environmental impacts of these two policies affecting legume production. We employ the bio-economic model FarmDyn, representing French and German dairy farms. The results suggest that relatively low levels of coupled support can lead to modest increases in legume production, but that more substantial changes require considerable subsidies. Allowing the French farm to apply manure on legumes, as is already possible in Germany, fosters legume production while considerably reducing the use of synthetic N fertilizer and imported protein-rich feed. However, environmental benefits are limited.

Heinrichs J., Kuhn T., Pahmeyer C., Britz W. (2021). Economic effects of plot sizes and farm-plot distances in organic and conventional farming systems: A farm-level analysis for Germany. Agricultural Systems, 187, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.agsy.2020.102992.
Plot sizes and farm-plot distances affect the economic performance of agricultural production. Their economic effects likely differ between conventional and organic farming systems due to major differences in crop production programs. Our paper quantifies these effects based on big data on resource requirements of field operations, summarized by regression models. Combined with detailed case study information obtained through interviews, we assess plot size and farm-plot distance effects for three case study farms which recently converted to organic farming. Our results show for both farming systems, as expected, that larger plot sizes reduce labor requirements and costs associated with crop production while larger farm-plot distances increase them. At same plot sizes and farm-plot distances organic farms face lower costs in crop production and, at given market prices, higher profits. Cost savings from larger plot sizes are, however, higher in conventional farming systems as are cost increases from growing farm-plot distances. This implies that economic benefits of conversion are higher for farms managing smaller plots farther away from the farm. Land fragmentation might hence favor switching to organic production and motivate regionally differentiated subsidy rates.

Duvaleix S., Lassalas M., Latruffe L., Konstantidelli V., Tzouramani I. (2020). Adopting Environmentally Friendly Farming Practices and the Role of Quality Labels and Producer Organisations: A Qualitative Analysis Based on Two European Case Studies. Sustainability, 12(24), 10457, https://doi.org/10.3390/su122410457.
Various drivers behind the adoption of environmentally friendly practices have been investigated at the farm level in the literature, e.g., farmers’ motivations and attitudes, farms’ structure, and management or policies. Yet, the way in which quality labels and producer organisations influence the adoption of environmentally friendly practices by farmers is still under-researched. We contribute to this topic and present the results of qualitative interviews with producer organisations, conducted in 2019 in two contrasting case studies: the pig sector in Brittany (western France), and the olive oil sector in Crete (Greece). Our study shows that economic actors of food supply chains in these two case studies use European quality labels, a couple of national schemes, and a proliferation of private quality labels (in Brittany’s pig sector). Our interviews reveal that many quality labels, for which agricultural farming systems must comply with a set of rules, are not specifically aimed at improving environmental impacts. In the Cretan olive oil sector, we observe several European public labels. In the French pig sector, many quality labels do not include requirements for practices aiming at improving the environment, but instead focus on other practices that matter for society, namely improving animal welfare. However, advisory services provided by the producer organisations can play a key role in the adoption of environmentally friendly practices. They include research programmes and agronomic events. In Crete, producer organisations are able to offer technical assistance thanks to European support programmes.

Florian V., Rusu M., Rosu E., Chitea M., Bruma S., Pocol C. (2020). Behavioural factors and ecological farming. Cases studies. Scientific Papers Series: “Management, Economic Engineering in Agriculture and Rural Development”, 20(2/2020).
The main objective of the paper is to identify and understand how the Romanian farmers relate to ecological farming in terms of ecological practices and ecological products. To achieve this objective, qualitative research methods were used: hybrid forum method and in-depth interviews. The obtained results reveal that in the county Cluj-Napoca, the stakeholders opt for building an operational social system (balanced functioning of the education, production, research, distribution systems within multi-dimensional political programmes/projects). At the same time, the stakeholders from Suceava opt for building an operational social system where the ecological practices are the core of agricultural systems.

Florian V., Rosu E. (2020). Ecological farming – rural realities, socio ecological arguments and comments. Cluj county case study. Agricultural Economics and Rural Development, 17(1).
The investigation of the relationship between ecology and sociology, in a sustainable agricultural matrix, provides possible complete answers to the problems generated by the respect of the environment and building a favourable environmental matrix. The interdisciplinary perspective investigates the following dimensions in sociological terms: environmental, economic and social processes induced by land use or land use changes, spatial interactions of processes and driving forces in anthropogenic landscapes. The specific trends of ecological farming are largely influenced by the behavioural factors and by the cultural and social capital of farmers involved in this type of farming activity.

Bańkowska K., Jasiński J., Krupin V. (2020). Organic Farming as Regional Smart Specialization in Podlasie in Light of Quantitative and Qualitative Research. Annals PAAAE; XXII(1), 20-28, DOI: 10.5604/01.3001.0013.7869.
The article aims to present the results of research on the prerequisites for the development of organic farming in a region recognized as Regional Smart Specialization. Due to growing consumer interest in the standards of food available on the market, the list of National Smart Specializations includes an entire section dedicated to “High quality food” and under it the “Production of organic, traditional and regional food”. Only few Polish voivodeships placed this sector on the regional list, thus giving organic farming priority in the process of financing research and investment. The voivodeship, which not only excels in the statistics of organic production in the country but, what is important, treats this activity as its smart specialization is the Podlaskie voivodeship. To assess the conditions for the development of organic farming in Podlasie, the data regarding the number of certified organic farms as well as the opinions of local stakeholders concerning the future of this sector in the region were analyzed. Including qualitative research results in the analysis process allowed to indicate the prognosis for the possible development of this sector in the voivodship.