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Risk And Structural Change In Agriculture: How Income Shocks Influence Farm Size

  • Roberts, Michael J.
  • Key, Nigel D.

Farm-level Census data and county-level income shock data reveal that past unexpected income shocks affect the rate of change in average farm size. Average farm size increases more quickly in counties experiencing negative income shocks as compared to counties experiencing positive income shocks. This result cannot be explained by perfect-market models, which predict farm size should adjust according to changes in the relative prices of labor and capital. We posit a model wherein cash flows affect liquidity, which in turn affects farm borrowing and capital costs. In the model, farms that do not face liquidity constraints benefit from negative income shocks because they reduce land values, so these farms expand while liquidity-constrained farms contract. Observed farm consolidation patterns and farm exit rates are consistent with a model wherein liquidity constraints affect small farms more than large farms.

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File URL: http://purl.umn.edu/19661
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Paper provided by American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association) in its series 2002 Annual meeting, July 28-31, Long Beach, CA with number 19661.

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Date of creation: 2002
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Handle: RePEc:ags:aaea02:19661
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  1. Christopher D. Carroll, 1996. "Buffer-Stock Saving and the Life Cycle/Permanent Income Hypothesis," NBER Working Papers 5788, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Steven Fazzari & R. Glenn Hubbard & Bruce C. Petersen, 1987. "Financing Constraints and Corporate Investment," NBER Working Papers 2387, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Simon Gilchrist & Charles P. Himmelberg, 1995. "Evidence on the Role of Cash Flow for Investment," Working Papers 95-01, New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics.
  4. Huffman, Wallace E. & Evenson, Robert E., 2000. "Structural and productivity change in US agriculture, 1950-1982," Agricultural Economics, Blackwell, vol. 24(2), pages 127-147, January.
  5. Stiglitz, Joseph E & Weiss, Andrew, 1981. "Credit Rationing in Markets with Imperfect Information," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(3), pages 393-410, June.
  6. Joao F. Gomes, 2001. "Financing Investment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1263-1285, December.
  7. Philippe Aghion & Gilles Saint-Paul, 1993. "Uncovering Some Causal Relationships between Productivity Growth and the Structure of Economic Fluctuations: A Tentative Survey," NBER Working Papers 4603, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Matthew D. Shapiro, 1986. "Investment, Output, and the Cost of Capital," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 17(1), pages 111-164.
  9. Thomas J. Sargent, 1979. ""Tobin's Q" and the rate of investment in general equilibrium," Staff Report 40, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
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