Volatility in the international food markets: implications for global agricultural supply and for market and price policy
Agricultural countries usually produce multiple crops, but a particular area of land is allocated to the production of a certain crop. Understanding how producers make decision to allot acreage among crops and how decisions about land use are affected by changes in prices and their volatility is fundamental for both policy design and for estimation models of the behavior of agricultural producers. The profitability of a land allocated to a certain crop is affected by the volatility of the crop’s price that in turn affects the acreage allocation decision of the producer. To address this, the present paper estimates global acreage response equations for major agricultural commodities (wheat, maize, soybeans and rice) using two related databases: globally aggregated time series and cross-country panel databases. The paper addresses the debate of agricultural market regulation from the perspective of agricultural producers. The findings of this study reveal that, while higher output prices are incentives to improvements in the global crop supply, output price volatility, on the other hand, discourages agricultural investment in terms of cropland expansion. Depending on respective crop, short-run acreage elasticities range between 0.05 and 0.25 whereas price volatility tends to reduce acreage response of all crops except of soybeans. Thus, price volatility management tools, which could include market regulation but also other market based tools like futures contracts or contract farming, need to be customized to specific crops and countries.
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