The article investigates the functioning of the Sardinian sheep dairy system as part of a global value chain whose components are mostly dependent on milk prices’ fluctuations in the global market. The low milk profitability is due to the mono-production of Pecorino Romano, a low-cost cheese destined to a mass market, highly standardized, easy to imitate and subject to price volatility. Moreover, in the sheep dairy chain, processing and food retailing industries have a monopolistic role and cause a squeeze of the profit margins of the local shepherds. In this framework, we analyse the resilience strategies of the local agro-pastoral system, based on traditional and new everyday practices to contrast the growing dependency of the external outputs and the global market, anchoring the farm household income to the territory. The article presents the results of a qualitative research based on 80 in-depth interviews (mainly with shepherds) and ethnographic observations of farms in various areas of Sardinia.
Keywords: Pastoralism; Sheep dairy chain; Resilience; Global food market.