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An Economic Analysis of “Local” Production: Is it Efficient or Inefficient


  • Jones, Eugene


It is well recognized that the production of many farm commodities, especially fruits and vegetables, has become geographically concentrated, with larger but fewer farmers involved in production. This concentration, according to critics, has resulted in the production of less flavorful commodities and added unnecessary costs to marketing. To address these shortcomings, several groups have advocated “local” production of farm commodities, especially fruits and vegetables. According to proponents of “locals”, such production is preferred by consumers because these commodities are fresher, more nutritious, better tasting, and grown with fewer pesticides. Further, local commodities provide income opportunities for small farmers and they serve to lower food miles and transportation costs. While acknowledging these described attributes and benefits, this paper uses a specific commodity, potatoes, to illustrate the true costs of “locals”. Results show efficiency gains from comparative advantage and other factors that far exceed the most optimistic returns to “locals”. In dollars, “local” production of potatoes would add, as a minimum, $3.8 billion of additional cost. Further, it would require an additional 961,000 acres of land. Local production costs for all commodities that make up consumers’ diets could possibly rival that of the $90 billion food stamp budget.

Suggested Citation

  • Jones, Eugene, 2014. "An Economic Analysis of “Local” Production: Is it Efficient or Inefficient," 2014 Annual Meeting, July 27-29, 2014, Minneapolis, Minnesota 170291, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:aaea14:170291
    DOI: 10.22004/ag.econ.170291

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Onozaka, Yuko & Nurse, Gretchen & Thilmany, Dawn D., 2010. "Local Food Consumers: How Motivations and Perceptions Translate to Buying Behavior," Choices: The Magazine of Food, Farm, and Resource Issues, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 25(1), pages 1-6.
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    1. Bošková, Iveta & Ratinger, Tomáš & Kličková, Kristýna, 2016. "The food industry structure under the effect of increasing number of regional products and small processing entities in the Czech Republic," 149th Seminar, October 27-28, 2016, Rennes, France 244898, European Association of Agricultural Economists.

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    Agribusiness; Food Consumption/Nutrition/Food Safety; Production Economics;
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