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Why Are Farms Getting Larger? The Case Of The U.S

  • MacDonald, James M.
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    Agricultural production continues to shift to larger farms in the U.S. I show that the shift is persistent over time, large, and ubiquitous across commodities. I review theories of farm size, and classify three channels for analysis: 1) scale effects, through technological economies and managerial diseconomies; 2) the roles of relative factor prices and factor shares; and 3) policy and institutions. Finally, I evaluate the empirical evidence on the forces driving structural change, distinguishing between crops and livestock because of important differences in the role of scale economies and coordination, and I offer some directions for the future.

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    File URL: http://purl.umn.edu/115361
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    Paper provided by German Association of Agricultural Economists (GEWISOLA) in its series 51st Annual Conference, Halle, Germany, September 28-30, 2011 with number 115361.

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    Date of creation: 2011
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    Handle: RePEc:ags:gewi11:115361
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    1. Allen, Douglas W & Lueck, Dean, 1998. "The Nature of the Farm," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 41(2), pages 343-86, October.
    2. James M. MacDonald & Sun-Ling Wang, 2011. "Foregoing Sub-therapeutic Antibiotics: the Impact on Broiler Grow-out Operations," Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 33(1), pages 79-98.
    3. Key, Nigel D. & McBride, William D. & Mosheim, Roberto, 2008. "Decomposition of Total Factor Productivity Change in the U.S. Hog Industry," Journal of Agricultural and Applied Economics, Southern Agricultural Economics Association, vol. 40(01), April.
    4. Hoppe, Robert A. & Korb, Penelope J. & Banker, David E., 2008. "Million-Dollar Farms in the New Century," Economic Information Bulletin 58623, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
    5. Milton Madison, 2005. "Technological Change and Economies of Scale in U.S. Poultry Processing," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 87(1), pages 116-129.
    6. MacDonald, James M. & O'Donoghue, Erik J. & McBride, William D. & Nehring, Richard F. & Sandretto, Carmen L. & Mosheim, Roberto, 2007. "Profits, Costs, and the Changing Structure of Dairy Farming," Economic Research Report 6704, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
    7. Foreman, Linda F. & McBride, William D., 2011. "Policy Reform in the Tobacco Industry: Producers Adapt to a Changing Market," Economic Information Bulletin 117969, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
    8. McBride, William D. & Greene, Catherine R., 2009. "Characteristics, Costs, and Issues for Organic Dairy Farming," Economic Research Report 55952, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
    9. Foreman, Linda F., 2006. "Characteristics and Production Costs of U.S. Corn Farms, 2001," Economic Information Bulletin 7205, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
    10. James M. MacDonald & Michael E. Ollinger, 2000. "Scale Economies and Consolidation in Hog Slaughter," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 82(2), pages 334-346.
    11. Dohlman, Erik & Foreman, Linda F. & Da Pra, Michelle, 2009. "The Post-Buyout Experience: Peanut and Tobacco Sectors Adapt to Policy Reform," Economic Information Bulletin 56628, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
    12. Key, Nigel D. & Roberts, Michael J., 2007. "Commodity Payments, Farm Business Survival, and Farm Size Growth," Economic Research Report 55968, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
    13. Horowitz, John K. & Ebel, Robert M. & Ueda, Kohei, 2010. ""No-Till" Farming Is a Growing Practice," Economic Information Bulletin 96636, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
    14. Douglas W. Allen & Dean Lueck, 2004. "The Nature of the Farm: Contracts, Risk, and Organization in Agriculture," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262511851, June.
    15. Michael J. Roberts & Nigel Key, 2008. "Agricultural Payments and Land Concentration: A Semiparametric Spatial Regression Analysis," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 90(3), pages 627-643.
    16. Peterson, Willis & Kislev, Yoav, 1986. "The Cotton Harvester in Retrospect: Labor Displacement or Replacement?," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 46(01), pages 199-216, March.
    17. MacDonald, James M. & McBride, William D., 2009. "The Transformation of U.S. Livestock Agriculture: Scale, Efficiency, and Risks," Economic Information Bulletin 58311, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
    18. Fernandez-Cornejo, Jorge & Mishra, Ashok K. & Nehring, Richard F. & Hendricks, Chad & Southern, Malaya & Gregory, Alexandra, 2007. "Off-Farm Income, Technology Adoption, And Farm Economic Performance," Economic Research Report 7234, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
    19. Key, Nigel D. & McBride, William D., 2007. "The Changing Economics of U.S. Hog Production," Economic Research Report 6389, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
    20. Roberto Mosheim & C.A. Knox Lovell, 2007. "Scale Economies and Inefficiency of U.S. Dairy Farms," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 91(3), pages 777-794.
    21. Colin G. Thirtle & David E. Schimmelpfennig & Robert E Townsend, 2002. "Induced Innovation in United States Agriculture, 1880–1990: Time Series Tests and an Error Correction Model," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 84(3), pages 598-614.
    22. Hoppe, Robert A. & MacDonald, James M. & Korb, Penelope J., 2010. "Small Farms in the United States: Persistence Under Pressure," Economic Information Bulletin 58300, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
    23. MacDonald, James M. & Korb, Penelope J., 2011. "Agricultural Contracting Update: Contracts in 2008," Economic Information Bulletin 101279, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
    24. Philip Lund & Roger Price, 1998. "The Measurement of Average Farm Size," Journal of Agricultural Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 49(1), pages 100-110.
    25. James M. MacDonald & Michael E. Ollinger, 2005. "Technology, Labor Wars, and Producer Dynamics: Explaining Consolidation in Beefpacking," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 87(4), pages 1020-1033.
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