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2017Open access

From farmer to dairy farmer: Swedish dairy farming from the late 1920s to 1990

Martiin, Carin


Swedish dairy farming became increasingly commercialized up until the midtwentieth century,when nine out of ten farmers supplied milk to dairy plants. They adopted the view that milk sales were the path to progress for agriculture and the countryside in times of urbanization.Dairy farming was obviously embedded in functions that went beyond food production, which complicated the situation when the surplus of dairy farmers led to overproduction.At the same time, domestic demand became saturated and the international butter market proved more challenging than expected.This article focuses on collective outcomes of farmers’ actions in terms of commercialization, intensification,specialization and geographic concentration from the late 1920s to 1990.The timeframe includes an expansive phase until the late 1940s,which was followed by decades of declining demand for milk and a more restrictive political policy toward agricultural surpluses.It is argued that the vision of dairy farming as a safe way to make a living in agriculture underestimated the potential for increased production and limited demand. Contrary to initial hopes of using milk as a way to save the countryside, increasingly intensive and specialized dairy farming served to drive many out of farming.


dairy farming; commercialization; intensification; dairy consumption

Published in

Historia Agraria
2017, number: 73, pages: 7-34
Publisher: UNIV MURCIA

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Agricultural Science

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