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Farming insider: Francis Bapst, Switzerland

About Francis

Just like his father and uncle, Francis grew up on the farm in La Sonnaz. The business has been in the hands of the Bapst family for multiple generations. Francis´s uncle and his two children are primarily in charge of the milk and coarse fodder production, while Francis and his father take care of the crops. Amid all the work, family remains the most important thing in life, he says. He ensures to enjoy his personal life too, taking breaks every now and again, and in winter he enjoys hiking or spending time with his family.

Farm facts

Family-owned for multiple generations

Livestock: 75 Holstein dairy cattle for industrial milk production

Cultivated crops: Potatoes

Features: The farm processes and sells potatoes with its own direct marketing operations. The root vegetables are grown, peeled and sliced, then pre-fried and packaged on the farm, after which they are delivered directly to restaurants.

For me, the most important values are respect for nature, understanding our consumers and food production.
Francis Bapst, La Sonnaz

Question time

Why did you decide to become a farmer – and can you picture yourself doing anything else?

No, I can't imagine doing anything else, I am passionate about this work. Working for someone else as an employee just doesn't interest me. My father always took the time to take me around the farm with him and show me the day-to-day work. He motivated me when I was a child to want to work in this profession later on – and he succeeded. My motivation for becoming a farmer was the diversity of the work. Through my profession, I am continuing a family tradition, and I'm also able to contribute to providing food for other people by using our soil for cultivation at my own discretion. Of course it's a tough job, but there's always something interesting to do every day.

How important is it to be able to make your decisions independently?

Independence is a wonderful thing. I view it as an opportunity to be able to work in line with my ideas and to take responsibility for my own decisions, even if it can be difficult sometimes to make the right choice.

Do you have values and personal approaches that steer the direction of your day-to-day work?

For me, the most important value is respect for nature. It's also essential to have a good understanding of our consumers and of food production. This remains the primary task in agriculture, and I want to contribute towards not having to import too much of our food. My goal is to be transparent and to present a positive image of agriculture.

What do you associate with the notions of team spirit and reliability?

Team spirit is crucial when it comes to working together. On our farm, cooperation is essential. Not everyone can be involved in all the decisions, so a family-run company will always need clear distribution of responsibilities and well-functioning communication. Reliability is also very important. You have to be reliable in both professional and personal life.

How do you approach innovations and new technologies?

I love finding out about new technologies. I like to take a critical look at our operations and I aim to invest in their longevity through innovations. This has led to us introducing some of our own new technologies as well. These include a tractor fitted with GPS and a new GPS-controlled hoeing machine. These new innovations have opened up new possibilities for us. A project to set up our own biogas plant is also in the planning.

On the road worldwide. Always closeby.

All farmers have their own character - which is reflected in their way of life, philosophy and the form of farming and livestock breeding. We visited our farmers around the world and wanted to know what makes them successful, what they stand for and what challenges they have to face. A journey across five continents.

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