Mixed farming systems & the environment

Previous section Mixed farming systems in the developed world: Nutrient surpluses


Mixed farming systems, with crops and livestock on the same farm, are likely to be a dynamic element (although a potentially transient one) of the growing livestock sector. Across eco-regions the time frame, in which within-one-farm mixed systems will develop, flourish and recede, will be closely tied to overall economic growth and development.

In the future, mixed farming systems will be subjected to the pressures and opportunities of a more open market economy. Structural adjustment reforms will continue, resulting in less distortions in exchange rates and input pricing. The global trade reform initiated under GATT and the World Trade Agreements will lower import barriers. It will be necessary to establish where a particular system is located in terms of regional nutrient balance and infrastructure links. Strict regulations on manure production and emission are expected to be further strengthened in the OECD countries and should become increasingly important in the mid-income level countries of Latin America and East Asia.

Mixed farming systems have a capacity to absorb and mitigate negative environmental impacts provided that environmental costs are internalized. This capacity is likely to be improved when markets are liberalized. Furthermore, these systems have the largest capacity to benefit from technological innovation. These two factors combined should help mixed farming systems to grow in size and importance as environmental costs force restrictions on industrial systems.

However, as explained in the next chapter, if significant industrial, land-detached systems are developed, opportunities will remain for production in a mixed farming context, by integrating industrial, land-detached units and arable farms in a giant “regional mixed farm”.

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