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Changes in Manure Management in the Hog Sector
In recent years, structural changes in the hog sector, including increasing farm size and regional shifts in production, have altered manure management practices. Over the same period, changes to the Clean Water Act, new state regulations, and increasing local conflicts over odor have influenced manure management decisions. This study uses data from two national surveys of hog farmers to examine how hog manure management practices vary with the scale of production and how these practices evolved between 1998 and 2004. The findings provide insights into the effects of structural changes and recent policies on manure management technologies and practices, the use of nutrient management plans, and manure application rates.
Do Decoupled Payments Stimulate Production? Estimating the Effect on Program Crop Acreage Using Matching
This study uses matching to evaluate the effect of decoupled payments on the acreage response of Iowa farmers who were in business in 1997 and 2002. Using farm-level panel data from the U.S. Agricultural Census, we examine whether farmers receiving high levels of 1997 agricultural payments per acre had a greater increase in program crop acreage between 1997 and 2002 than farmers receiving low levels of payments. The panel data set allows for conditioning current acreage on past individual acreage and operator characteristics. The large and exhaustive sample allows for comparisons across similar farms. The matching methodology avoids distributional and functional form assumptions about the relationship between the treatment and outcome. Results are consistent with other recent empirical estimates that suggest small but statistically significant effects of decoupled payments on production.
Local Monopsony Power in the Market for Broilers - Evidence from a Farm Survey
The exercise of monopsony power by broiler processing firms is plausible because production occurs within localized complexes, which limits the number of integrators with whom growers can contract. In addition, growers face distinct hold-up risks as broiler production requires a substantial investment in specific assets and most production contracts do not involve long-term purchasing commitments by integrators. This paper provides an initial exploration of the links between the local concentration of broiler integrators and grower compensation under production contracts using data from the 2006 broiler version of USDA’s Agricultural Resource Management Survey. Results of this preliminary study, which accounts for characteristics of the operation and specific features of the production contract, suggest a small but economically meaningful effect of concentration on grower concentration. Limitations of the current analysis and future possible model extensions are discussed.
Aligning Incentives for Accelerated Heifer Growth in Custom Heifer
Dairy managers today are faced with the decision to either raise their own replacements on the dairy farm or send heifers to a custom heifer grower. The largest potential challenge of contracting out the heifer raising enterprise revolves around the potential for a moral hazard problem because of hidden action on the part of the custom heifer grower. A principal-agent framework was used to elicit contract terms which provide incentives for the custom heifer grower to perform accelerated growth without heifers becoming over-conditioned. In order to provide incentives to custom growers, heifers returned to the dairy farm should be compared in performance to other heifers of similar age. We solve for the price paid per pound of gain, price paid for inch of wither height above the average heifer on the operation, deduction per unit of body condition score over or under ideal body condition score, and percent of the value of milk production above the average milk production by herd peers. Such comparisons are similar to tournament contracts, such as those used in raising poultry or swine.
Do Inventory and Time-to-Delivery Effects Vary Across Futures Contracts? Insights from a Smoothed Bayesian Estimator
We apply a new Bayesian approach to multiple-contract futures data to allow the inventory and time-to-delivery effects on volatility to vary across contracts. We find a varying negative relationship between lumber inventories and lumber futures price volatility. The inventory effect is smaller for the most recent contracts possibly due to increasing inventories over time. While this approach reveals the downward bias on the inventory effect introduced by restricting this parameter across contracts, it does not change the time-to-delivery effect.
Migrant Labor Markets and the Welfare of Rural Households in the Developing World: Evidence from China
In this paper, we examine the impact of reductions in barriers to migration on the consumption of rural households in China. We find that increased migration from rural villages leads to significant increases in consumption per capita, and that this effect is stronger for poorer households within villages. Household income per capita and non-durable consumption per capita both increase with out-migration, and increase more for poorer households. We also establish a causal relationship between increased out-migration and investment in housing and durable goods assets, and these effects are also stronger for poorer households. We do not find robust evidence, however, to support a connection between increased migration and investment in productive activity. Instead, increased migration is associated with two significant changes for poorer households: increases both in the total labor supplied to productive activities and in the land per capita managed by the household. In examining the effect of migration, we pay considerable attention to developing and examining our identification strategy.
Did the Baby Boom Cause the Farm-Size Boom?
Growing farm size has generally been explained by technological advances that have allowed farmers to substitute capital for labor. Another possible factor in explaining recent farm size is the demographic shift: the age distribution of farmers has shifted to the right and older farmers generally operate larger farms than younger farmers. This paper uses data from the 1982, 1987, 1992, 1997, and 2002 Agricultural Censuses to examine the relative importance of the demographic shift versus technological factors in explaining overall farm size growth. Results indicate that farm sizes tend to increase with age and that, holding age constant, the typical farm-size has increased over time for all ages, presumably due to technological change. The age-distribution shift is combined with the age-specific farm-size shift, to provide a preliminary estimate of the effect of the age distribution shift and technological change on average farm size growth.
Biofuels and Rural Economic Development in Latin America and the Caribbean
Biofuel expansion is seen as a way to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, as an alternative energy source for transportation and other uses, as a way to reduce Green House Gases, and as way to revitalize the agricultural sector. Very little discussions have been focused on Latin America, except for Brazil. Potential negative impacts re-enforce the need of performing more in depth analysis of the potential impact of biofuels expansion in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). Paper estimates biofuels production potential based on current production situation and develops a forward-looking analysis of the long-term impact of biofuels expansion in Latin America and its effects on prices, trade, food security, malnutrition and other indicators using the IMPACT-WATER model developed by IFPRI. The analysis conducted for this paper of potential crops in the region show that from a technical and productivity standpoint in which to base biofuels expansion continues to be sugarcane and palm oil trees. Most countries in Latin America will not have a production constraint in terms of meeting existing and projected mandatory blends requirements. However, if the goal is to obtain energy independence, this result only holds for a few countries, with obvious food security implications as countries dedicate higher shares of their agricultural land to biofuels expansion. Our analysis, and those made in other studies, show that biofuels expansion is not likely to have a binding land production constraint in Latin America, with a few exceptions. The forward-looking estimations from the IMPACT-WATER model show that Brazil will continue to be the major player in the ethanol market. Brazil will expand its ethanol exports to meet growing demand in other countries including some in Latin America. Other countries such as Argentina and Colombia will likely continue their biofuels expansion plans, although our estimate show that they will not likely meet their demand based on current production
Land Use Change and Ecosystem Valuation in North Georgia
A model of land allocation at the aggregate watershed level was developed assuming profit/net benefit maximization under risk neutrality. The econometric land use model was analyzed as an equation by equation SURE model as all the independent variables were the same for both equations. In analyzing effect of land use change on water quality, we took year 2005 as our baseline and postulated three land use scenarios. We applied Benefit Transfer techniques to value water quality changes resulting from land use change and estimated lower bounds for WTP to improve water quality to meet the FCB criterion for drinking water supply and fishing waters and BOD (DO) criteria for fishing waters. Water quality modeling revealed that land use change would result in increased runoff, and associated increase in FCB and BOD/DO violations. But the BOD/DO violations could be curtailed by managing urban growth as evidenced absence of BOD violations in the managed growth scenario. Our study finds there may be problems of FCB under all postulated future land use scenarios. The findings also support existing literature that there are problems with FCB violation in the study area at the moment. Finally, it seems that the people of UCRB would be willing to pay a lower bound value between USD 15,785,740 and USD 16,141,230 per year to create and maintain quality standards for fishing and drinking water supply.
Does Politics Matter in EPA's Monitoring Activities? Evidence from Facility Level Data on Enforcement of Clean Air Laws
This paper studies the potential effects of political pressure on environmental law enforcement in the Unites States. Prior work, most notably the key works of Deily and Gray, document the sensitivity of U.S. environmental enforcement to economic circumstances of regulated firms. However, the sensitivity of environmental enforcement may be motivated not only by cost-benefit criterion (economic costs of environmental enforcement against troubled firms in high unemployment areas are high) but also by political considerations, and most likely both. We are interested in identifying whether political influence directly affected environmental enforcement during the years 1990-2005, which cover most part of the Bush and Clinton administrations. Using political, demographic and income related data from various sources and mapping them with EPA's data on facility level inspection, we find evidence that political processes at the local, state and federal level do matter for facility level inspection.
Food insecurity and childhood obesity: beyond categorical and linear representations
Previous work on the relationship between food insecurity and childhood overweight has lead to a wide array of answers – some have found a positive relationship, others no relationship, and still others a negative relationship. This previous work has shared one thing in common – all have used parametric models. In this paper we move beyond parametric models by using non-parametric models. With data from the 1999-2002 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) and a wide array parametric methods, we find evidence across different samples of a positive relationship, no relationship, and a negative relationship between childhood overweight and food insecurity. When we turn to non-parametric methods, however, this ambiguity across samples is not as prevalent. Instead, across different samples, we find (a) increases in the probability of food insecurity in the middle of the BMI distribution, (b) increases in the probability at the very high end of the BMI, and (c) no relationship across the entire distribution. We present some parametric models that roughly mimic these relationships. Our results indicate that efforts to reduce food insecurity will either have no impact on childhood overweight or would lead to reductions in childhood overweight.
Bundled Ecosystem Markets – Are They The Future
Bundled ecosystem markets may be the next big buzz in environmental policy and ecosystem conservation and restoration. But what does it mean? And what is the feasibility of these markets? While single service ecosystem markets are proliferating, bundled ecosystem markets are not. Using some ‘enabling’ and ‘operating’ conditions identified for various single ecosystem markets, I will see how these conditions hold as you move to bundled ecosystem markets. I also outline some of the hurdles that confront the development of bundled ecosystem markets and what may need to be reconciled to move these markets forward. This article is aimed at stimulating greater thinking and promoting more exploration by the policy and research community into the development of bundled ecosystem markets.
Reverse Auctions: Are they a Cost-Effective Alternative to Traditional Agricultural Conservation Spending
Agricultural practices continue to degrade water quality and ecosystems worldwide. In the United States, programs like the Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) target the voluntary adoption of agricultural best management practices (BMPs). Demand for these programs has historically exceeded available funding, so allocating funding to achieve the greatest environmental outcome is essential. In recent years, economists have argued that market mechanisms should be incorporated within government programs to improve their cost-effectiveness. This article presents the results of a reverse auction to allocate funding to reduce phosphorus losses from farms, and compares the results with EQIP funded contracts in the same watershed.
USDA's Low-Cost, Moderate-Cost, and Liberal Food Plans: Development and Expenditure Shares
The Low-Cost, Moderate-Cost, and Liberal Food Plans represent nutritious diets at various costs. This revision of the market baskets of each food plan using a mathematical optimization model reflects recent changes in dietary guidance and incorporates updated information on food composition, consumption patterns, and food prices at the same inflation-adjusted cost of the previous food plans. This analysis shows how food expenditures need to change to obtain a healthful diet. The analysis is particularly significant because average food expenses exceed the cost of the Low-Cost Food Plan. Hence, Americans could achieve a healthful diet at less the cost than they are currently paying.
Competition, Bargaining Power, and the Cattle Cycle
Cattle production follows a dynamic cycle that has often been analyzed, and cattle markets receive much scrutiny because of the potential for buyer market power. The relationship between the two has been little studied, however. This paper provides a simple conceptual framework to study how the cattle cycle and market concentration jointly affect the bargaining power of producers and packers yielding the following main results. Not surprisingly, a larger cattle stock reduces producers' bargaining position, which results in a lower fed cattle price. More importantly, however, the cattle stock's negative effect on price is magnified by the market concentration in beef packing. Thus, the cycle itself is very importantly related to a posited cycle of bargaining power between cattle producers and beef packers. Secondly, the model also shows how beef packers may use the special feature of cattle as both consumption and capital goods to lower the cattle price by influencing cattle inventories.
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