For other pastoralists, key responses to uncertainty do not have anything to do with selling or making cheese. They have neither the desire nor the option to make it. Uniting in cooperatives and associations to increase their bargaining power relative to other actors in the value chain becomes key; so does demanding rights for the fair allocation of public resources and for the regulation of markets. At the farm level, some increase investments in technology.
Some reduce their dependency on external inputs and rely on natural pasture and more resistant breeds, at the expense of reduced milk production. Others question the profitability of sheep and milk, and look at different markets and public incentives supporting organic production and tourism.
Management and technology to counter uncertainty
“As long as there is correct planning, there is no uncertainty. So, I adapt the farm to the needs and situation of today's manpower. Nobody does the dirty work anymore. So, if I have to decide, I invest in technology and it means that the reliability is much higher.”
Stefano, northwest Sardinia, 32 years old
more natural pasture, less input dependency
“The work we did was absurd. When there was early rain, some clover started to grow. I ploughed the land and sowed it…with what? That very same clover. Now we have stopped buying seeds. We are lucky that these are fertile lands. They even took the seeds to Australia, they made them into hybrids, and then they sold them back to us at €400 a quintal.”
Gino, northwest Sardinia, hills
Demanding that our rights are respected
“This is a photo from 1999, when we occupied the regional Council of Sardinia. If we don’t fight to claim our rights, the government does not do it for us. Let’s not even talk about the unions. The movement has achieved so much, we have united all pastoralists in Sardinia, we have shown the world the importance of this sector, and we have reclaimed the public resources that we were entitled to, but that were concentrated in the hands of a few.”
one of the leaders of the Sardinian Pastoralist Movement
Should I stay or should I go?
“Uncertainty is there every day… uncertainty whether to continue or not because it is becoming less and less profitable and difficult to foresee from an economic point of view… and even this has conditioned our choice to transition to organic, to try to have an income to compensate for these higher costs.”
Aldo, South Sardinia, 52 years old