• Description

  • Why are small-scale family dairy farms expanding to larger scale industrialized systems such as compost barns in Santa Catarina, one of the largest dairy production regions in Brazil?

  • Compost barns are presented to small-scale farmers as a modern and efficient production model. Farmers perceive that by adopting these intensive confined systems, they will acquire the social status associated with modernity. To curb the further adoption of compost barns and encourage the use of pasture-based systems instead, one needs to take multiple steps and approaches.
  • FARMERS AND EXTENSION AGENTS: 1) Engage with farmers individually, and identify extension agents with good relationships with farmers. 2) Explain that compost barns require massive investments and higher labor demands, reduce animal welfare, and increase vulnerability to external factors, while well-managed pasture-based systems can match many of the alleged benefits of compost barns. 3) Women and younger generations in family farms are key groups to target, given their growing influence in decision-making. 4) Promote sustainable, pasture-based dairy production systems as a new face of modernity and symbol of high status that brings a sense of pride. 5) Publicize successful pasture-based farms as model farms. 6) Provide concrete steps of managing pasture-based systems that farmers can easily understand and follow.

  • CONSUMERS: Develop public interest in sustainable, pasture-based dairy production; generate consumer markets for animal welfare-friendly, climate-friendly or carbon-neutral milk.

  • POLICY MAKERS: Lobby for policies that incentivize production using pasture-based systems, for example: Rural credit programs for smallholders, programs that give them a secure market, payment for ecosystem services, subsidizing photovoltaic energy.

From pasture to compost barns: Smallholder family dairy farmers and the expansion of industrialized animal production in Santa Catarina, Brazil