Reversion from Organic to Conventional Agriculture in Germany:
Sanna Heinze, Alexander Vogel
Organic farming has become increasingly important during recent decades, and the increasing number of organic farms shows a positive trend. Recent studies, however, find that there is a counterbalancing trend: farmers are leaving the organic sector and reverting to conventional methods. We contribute to this new branch of literature by performing event history analysis in order to examine reversion patterns in Germany for the first time. Moreover, we present new evidence for a comparable cohort of farms on which organic production was started in the same time period between 1999 and 2003. Our results show that 30% of these newly converted farms were reverted to conventional agriculture by 2010. Most of the reversions took place between 2003 to 2005. Thus, we can conclude that these farms were reverted within six years after they had become organic. Furthermore, we find that part-time farms and farms with fattened pigs or poultry face a higher probability of reverting, while farms with a higher income potential per labor unit, a higher degree of conversion, a higher share of vegetables, and a higher number of dairy or suckler cows are less likely to revert to conventional methods. Information on reversion behavior is needed when policy aims at reaching a higher share of organic area in a country. In order to prevent organic farmers from leaving the organic sector, we recommend offering an extended advisory service both before and during conversion as well as continuous support after conversion. Particular support for part-time farms or farms with pigs and poultry may contribute to the growth of the organic sector.