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Does risk matter for farm businesses? The effect of crop insurance on production and diversification

  • O'Donoghue, Erik J.
  • Key, Nigel D.
  • Roberts, Michael J.

We use a large increase in Federal crop insurance subsidies as a natural experiment to identify the impact of risk on acreage and diversification decisions. Subsidy increases induced greater crop insurance coverage, which reduced farmers' financial risks. Did this change in the risk environment alter production decisions? We merged crop insurance participation data with farm-level Agricultural Census data from 1992 and 1997 to examine how harvested acreage and diversification changed in response to the policy-induced change in insurance coverage. The difference in differences empirical approach controls for unobservable heterogeneity and our results are robust across multiple definitions of our key variables and various fixed effects. We find that changes in the risk environment caused larger farms to expand while smaller farms shrank. Regardless of size, producers showed some evidence of using diversification as a method to mitigate risk. However, risk does not seem to have large overall effects.

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File URL: http://purl.umn.edu/19397
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Paper provided by American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association) in its series 2005 Annual meeting, July 24-27, Providence, RI with number 19397.

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Date of creation: 2005
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Handle: RePEc:ags:aaea05:19397
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  1. Berger, Philip G. & Ofek, Eli, 1995. "Diversification's effect on firm value," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 39-65, January.
  2. Elton, Edwin J. & Gruber, Martin J., 2000. "The Rationality of Asset Allocation Recommendations," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 35(01), pages 27-41, March.
  3. Minton, Bernadette A. & Schrand, Catherine, 1999. "The impact of cash flow volatility on discretionary investment and the costs of debt and equity financing," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(3), pages 423-460, December.
  4. Mishra, Ashok K. & El-Osta, Hisham S., 2002. "Risk Management Through Enterprise Diversification: A Farm-Level Analysis," 2002 Annual meeting, July 28-31, Long Beach, CA 19711, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
  5. Harry Markowitz, 1952. "Portfolio Selection," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 7(1), pages 77-91, 03.
  6. Pekka Ahtiala, 2000. "Conglomerate Mergers as Defense Against the Risk of Relative Price Variability," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 82(1), pages 160-163, February.
  7. Cebenoyan, A. Sinan & Strahan, Philip E., 2004. "Risk management, capital structure and lending at banks," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 19-43, January.
  8. Rulon D. Pope, 2003. "Agricultural Risk Analysis: Adequacy of Models, Data, and Issues," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 85(5), pages 1249-1256.
  9. JunJie Wu, 1999. "Crop Insurance, Acreage Decisions, and Nonpoint-Source Pollution," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 81(2), pages 305-320.
  10. Ashok K. Mishra & Carmen L. Sandretto, 2002. "Stability of Farm Income and the Role of Nonfarm Income in U.S. Agriculture," Review of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 24(1), pages 208-221.
  11. Ashok K. Mishra & Barry K. Goodwin, 1997. "Farm Income Variability and the Supply of Off-Farm Labor," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 79(3), pages 880-887.
  12. Barry K. Goodwin & Monte L. Vandeveer & John L. Deal, 2004. "An Empirical Analysis of Acreage Effects of Participation in the Federal Crop Insurance Program," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 86(4), pages 1058-1077.
  13. J. Wu & R. M. Adams, 2001. "Production Risk, Acreage Decisions and Implications for Revenue Insurance Programs," Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics/Revue canadienne d'agroeconomie, Canadian Agricultural Economics Society/Societe canadienne d'agroeconomie, vol. 49(1), pages 19-35, 03.
  14. El-Osta, Hisham S. & Bernat, G. Andrew, Jr. & Ahearn, Mary Clare, 1995. "Regional Differences In The Contribution Of Off-Farm Work To Income Inequality," Agricultural and Resource Economics Review, Northeastern Agricultural and Resource Economics Association, vol. 24(1), April.
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