Conversion to Organic Dairy Production in the Netherlands: Opportunities and Constraints*


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    We thank four anonymous reviewers and the editors for their helpful suggestions. This research was carried out within the framework of the “Stimulating Programme Biodiversity,” which was set up by the Netherlands Organisation of Scientific Research (NWO). We gratefully acknowledge the financial support provided by NWO.


Abstract  Organic agriculture is perceived as being more sustainable than conventional agriculture. However, while there is a growing interest in, and market for, organic products, large-scale conversion to organic agriculture is not taking place. Even though conversion from conventional to organic dairy production is not especially difficult in theory, conversion is slow in this specific sector. The conversion process to organic agriculture is often analyzed by investigating farmer motivations and attitudes. However, since modern agricultural production is organized in production chains, which are in turn subject to stakeholder influence, a wider focus that includes these interrelationships might provide new insights regarding the lagging conversion. Based on document analysis, policy analysis, and interviews, this article investigates opportunities for, and barriers to, conversion to organic dairy production in the Netherlands within the setting of the chain network. Opportunities and barriers are found at three levels within the chain network: the actor level, the chain level, and the network level. We conclude that, despite some involvement in organic production and a positive disposition toward it, the chain network is not ready for a large-scale conversion.