The political robot – The structural consequences of automated milking systems (AMS) in Norway.
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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In this article, the aim is to explore how social aspects of the adoption and expansion of milking robots in Norwegian dairy farming are related to the political and structural changes in the sector. To explore the relationship between the implementation of automated milking systems (AMS) and structural developments, we used a qualitative methodology building on data from interviews with farmers, policy documents, statistics, and secondary literature. The structural change in the Norwegian dairy sector was substantial between 2000 and 2018. The average number of cows on each farm increased from 14.4 to 27.9, while the number of farms decreased from around 21,000 to less than 9,000. More than 47 percent of the milk produced in Norway now comes from a dairy farm with an AMS, and this percentage is rapidly increasing. We argue that the structural developments in milk production in Norway are neither politically nor economically driven, but are mainly an unintended consequence of farmers’ aggregated investments in AMS – which are supposed to increase farmers’ everyday quality of life – and reluctant regulatory changes to make investments in AMS structurally and economically viable.