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Scale Economies and Efficiency in U.S. Agriculture: Are Traditional Farms History?

  • Catherine Paul
  • Richard Nehring
  • David Banker
  • Agapi Somwaru

The structural transformation of agriculture in recent decades has raised serious concerns about the future of the family farm. This study examines the economic performance of U.S. farms, to explore the potential of smaller farms to compete with larger entities, and ultimately to survive in this rapidly changing environment. We use deterministic and stochastic frontier methods and survey data to measure and evaluate factors underlying scale economies (SEC) and efficiency (SEF) of corn-belt farms for 1996–2001. Our results suggest that family farms are both scale and technically inefficient. Potential for the exploitation of significant scale and scope economies, and some greater technical efficiency, seem to be driving trends toward increased farm size and dwindling competitiveness of the small family farm. Copyright Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s11123-004-7573-1
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Article provided by Springer in its journal Journal of Productivity Analysis.

Volume (Year): 22 (2004)
Issue (Month): 3 (November)
Pages: 185-205

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Handle: RePEc:kap:jproda:v:22:y:2004:i:3:p:185-205
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.springerlink.com/link.asp?id=100296

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  1. Kumbhakar, Subal C & Biswas, Basudeb & Bailey, DeeVon, 1989. "A Study of Economic Efficiency of Utah Dairy Farmers: A System Approach," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 71(4), pages 595-604, November.
  2. Subhash Ray, 2003. "Measuring Scale Efficiency from the Translog Multi-Input, Multi-Output Distance Function," Working papers 2003-25, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
  3. Verbeek, Marno & Nijman, Theo, 1992. "Can Cohort Data Be Treated as Genuine Panel Data?," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 17(1), pages 9-23.
  4. Baumol, William J, 1982. "Contestable Markets: An Uprising in the Theory of Industry Structure," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(1), pages 1-15, March.
  5. Meeusen, Wim & van den Broeck, Julien, 1977. "Efficiency Estimation from Cobb-Douglas Production Functions with Composed Error," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 18(2), pages 435-44, June.
  6. Sharma, Khem R. & Leung, PingSun & Zaleski, Halina M., 1999. "Technical, allocative and economic efficiencies in swine production in Hawaii: a comparison of parametric and nonparametric approaches," Agricultural Economics, Blackwell, vol. 20(1), pages 23-35, January.
  7. Deaton, Angus, 1985. "Panel data from time series of cross-sections," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 30(1-2), pages 109-126.
  8. Sharma, Khem R. & Leung, PingSun & Zaleski, Halina M., 1999. "Technical, allocative and economic efficiencies in swine production in Hawaii: a comparison of parametric and nonparametric approaches," Agricultural Economics of Agricultural Economists, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 20(1), January.
  9. C. Lovell, 2003. "The Decomposition of Malmquist Productivity Indexes," Journal of Productivity Analysis, Springer, vol. 20(3), pages 437-458, November.
  10. Fare, Rolf & Grosskopf, Shawna, 1990. "A distance function approach to price efficiency," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 123-126, October.
  11. Almas Heshmati & Subal C. Kumbhakar, 1997. "Estimation Of Technical Efficiency In Swedish Crop Farms: A Pseudo Panel Data Approach," Journal of Agricultural Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 48(1-3), pages 22-37.
  12. Shon P. Williams & C. Richard Shumway, 1998. "Testing for Behavioral Objective and Aggregation Opportunities in U.S. Agricultural Data," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 80(1), pages 195-207.
  13. repec:ner:tilbur:urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-153281 is not listed on IDEAS
  14. Aigner, Dennis & Lovell, C. A. Knox & Schmidt, Peter, 1977. "Formulation and estimation of stochastic frontier production function models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 6(1), pages 21-37, July.
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