Publications Agriculture and food

Livestock farming transition: managing past investments and rethinking future ones

Report only available in French


Accompanying the decline in livestock numbers

All transition scenarios rely on a decline in livestock numbers to meet climate targets. Yet in France, most livestock populations are already declining. The challenge is not only to continue this trend, but also to support it, to ensure a fair and acceptable transition for livestock farmers and other players in the livestock industry. This is particularly true for the dairy sector.


To support this transition, we need to understand its economic impact and assess the different types of costs associated with it. The investment requirements for developing new sectors, even if they need to be better quantified, are already the subject of discussion in the public debate, and even of public funding such as the €135 million “agro-equipment conversion premium” or the “plant proteins” component of the stimulus plan.


However, when an economic sector sees its activity decline, the question also arises as to the future of its production tools currently in place, which will lose value compared to a scenario in which activity is maintained. These are known as “assets at risk”. This is a particularly important issue in agriculture, since farmers invest in their business throughout their lives, with the prospect of increasing its value when they retire, in order to ensure a decent retirement.


Managing risky assets

This is why I4CE has analyzed “assets at risk” in the livestock industry. It shows that assets at risk can be of 3 types. They may be :


  1. oversized, if the level of equipment far exceeds the use to which it is put;
  2. reconvertible, if they can be put to a new use, subject to the cost of adapting them;
  3. stranded, if they are no longer usable and have lost all value.


Click here to see the visual “Possible use trajectories for a farm asset” in French


Our analysis shows that, of all the assets immobilized on livestock farms, buildings represent the greatest risk. While these at-risk assets represent a real challenge on an individual scale, on a national scale they represent several hundred million euros a year to manage over a decade.


Click here to see the visual “Summary of asset risk levels” in French



Don’t increase the stock of risky assets

Every year, over a billion euros in investment subsidies are granted to livestock farms. To avoid increasing the stock of risky assets, we need to:

  1. recalibrate these subsidies to avoid over-investment;
  2. redirect them to ensure that they favor production tools compatible with sustainability objectives.



Livestock farming transition: managing past investments and rethinking future ones Download
I4CE Contacts
Research Analyst – Financing the transition to agriculture, Carbon certification Email
Research Fellow – Financing the agricultural transition, Food systems Email
Program Director – Agriculture and Forestry Email
To learn more
  • 03/15/2024 Foreword of the week
    Certification framework: the devil is in the details

    A few days after the conclusion of negotiations on the European Union’s carbon removals certification Framework (CRCF), I4CE helped organise the European Carbon Farming Summit in Valencia, as part of the CREDIBLE project. The high level of stakeholder participation at the summit testifies to the expectations that this new tool will contribute to a better economic valuation of carbon farming practices. The summit raised high hopes for improving and harmonising carbon measurement to certify projects, in particular through remote sensing, in a sector where there is a great deal of uncertainty. While it is vital to improve measurement and monitoring, uncertainty must not be allowed to justify inaction, and the key is to find the right balance between cost and accuracy.

  • 02/21/2023
    Reducing meat consumption: public policies a long way from sustainability objectives

    Livestock population in France has been falling for several decades (-20% for dairy cattle and -33% for sows since 2000), without necessarily reducing the quantities produced. But productivity gains will not be able to maintain production levels forever. For the decline in livestock farming to have an impact on the climate, it must be accompanied by a drop in meat consumption, but is this really happening?

  • 12/02/2022 Foreword of the week
    European Carbon Certification must be demanding… and appealing

    How can we differentiate between projects that really enable carbon to be stored and those that only claim to do so? This is a complicated question when dealing with projects in agriculture and forestry, where quantifying carbon storage is complex, and where other environmental challenges, like the preservation of biodiversity, must also be taken into account. A complicated question, therefore, but one that needs an answer! Private actors and public authorities want to ensure that the agricultural and forestry projects financed in the name of the climate have a real environmental benefit.

See all publications
Press contact Amélie FRITZ Head of Communication and press relations Email
Subscribe to our mailing list :
I register !
Subscribe to our newsletter
Once a week, receive all the information on climate economics
I register !