Evidence of land hoarding behavior in US agriculture
Purpose - The purpose of the study is to test how land owners respond to the appreciation of land values in the presence of speculation. This paper introduces the concept of “land hoarding,” which is land owners' response to higher land prices by selling more land up to a point beyond which accelerated land price appreciation would lead to land hoarding. Specifically, this paper examines the effect of land value appreciation higher than the opportunity cost of selling the land (measured by treasury-bill (T-bill) rate) on land sale and land hoarding. Design/methodology/approach - A theoretical framework is developed to understand the demand for agricultural land retention with and without speculation, the former informing land hoarding behavior. A linear regression model was introduced and estimated using ordinary least square (OLS) method. A panel data model and analysis is also introduced, and following appropriate model selection tests, a fixed effect panel data estimation method is implemented. Data from 48 states, spanning from 1950 to 2004, are utilized. Findings - An inverse relationship is found between the rate of land value appreciation and the demand for land by farmers, suggesting that the standard direct relationship between appreciation and land supplied to development holds. However, the additional finding of an inverse relationship between the rate of land value appreciation in excess of the risk-free rate of return and agricultural land development confirms the existence of an identifiable speculative demand component that involves land hoarding. Practical implications - To the extent to which the findings are broadly applicable, one policy implication is that enhanced land retention can be achieved through market mechanisms. For example, the notion that reduced T-bill rates can actually result in market triggered land preservation is an interesting policy related finding. Equally interesting is the notion that policies that can trigger increases in the rate of appreciation of farmland may also potentially result in the agricultural hoarding of land. Obviously, enhanced profitability in agriculture due to programs targeting viability, commodity price support, reduction of regulation or market expansion programs can potentially affect land retention. Originality/value - This paper introduces the “land hoarding hypothesis.” High rates of land appreciation can be expected to signal that holding the land may yield better returns than selling it, suggesting that if rates of land appreciation become significantly high enough, farmers may begin to hoard land, not sell it, to maximize long-term returns. This concept can be valuable to market-based agricultural land retention programs at the urban fringe. By linking speculative behavior, land demand and existence of a hoarding behavior under some conditions, this paper adds value and originality to the literature.
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Volume (Year): 70 (2010)
Issue (Month): 3 (November)
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