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Agricultural Productivity Growth in the United States: Measurement, Trends, and Drivers

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  • Wang, Sun Ling
  • Heisey, Paul
  • Schimmelpfennig, David
  • Ball, Eldon

Abstract

U.S. agricultural output more than doubled between 1948 and 2011, with growth averaging 1.49 percent per year. With little growth in total measured use of agricultural inputs, the extraordinary performance of the U.S. farm sector was driven mainly by increases in total factor productivity (TFP—measured as output per unit of aggregate input). Over the last six decades, the mix of agricultural inputs used shifted significantly, with increased use of intermediate goods (e.g., fertilizer and pesticides) and less use of labor and land. The output mix changed as well, with crop production growing faster than livestock production. Based on econometric analysis of updated (1948-2011) TFP data, this study finds no statistical evidence that longrun U.S. agricultural productivity has slowed over time. Model-based projections show that in the future, slow growth in research and development investments may have only minor effects on TFP growth over the next 10 years but will slow TFP growth much more over the long term.

Suggested Citation

  • Wang, Sun Ling & Heisey, Paul & Schimmelpfennig, David & Ball, Eldon, 2015. "Agricultural Productivity Growth in the United States: Measurement, Trends, and Drivers," Economic Research Report 207954, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:uersrr:207954
    DOI: 10.22004/ag.econ.207954
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    File URL: https://ageconsearch.umn.edu/record/207954/files/err189.pdf
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    3. repec:oup:apecpp:v:40:y:2018:i:3:p:421-444. is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Key, Nigel, 2019. "Farm size and productivity growth in the United States Corn Belt," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 84(C), pages 186-195.
    5. Dong Hee Suh & Charles B. Moss, 2021. "Examining the Input and Output Linkages in Agricultural Production Systems," Agriculture, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 11(1), pages 1-13, January.
    6. Sun Ling Wang & Eldon Ball & Richard Nehring & Ryan Williams & Truong Chau, 2018. "Impacts of Climate Change and Extreme Weather on US Agricultural Productivity: Evidence and Projection," NBER Chapters, in: Agricultural Productivity and Producer Behavior, pages 41-75, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Ashok K. Mishra & Saleem Shaik & Aditya R. Khanal & Subir Bairagi, 2018. "Contract farming and technical efficiency: Evidence from low†value and high†value crops in Nepal," Agribusiness, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 34(2), pages 426-440, March.
    8. Uris Lantz C. Baldos & Keith O. Fuglie & Thomas W. Hertel, 2020. "The research cost of adapting agriculture to climate change: A global analysis to 2050," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 51(2), pages 207-220, March.
    9. Wyatt Thompson & Joe Dewbre & Patrick Westfhoff & Kateryna Schroeder & Simone Pieralli & Ignacio Perez Dominguez, 2017. "Introducing medium-and long-term productivity responses in Aglink-Cosimo," JRC Working Papers JRC105738, Joint Research Centre (Seville site).
    10. Karolina Pawlak & Małgorzata Kołodziejczak, 2020. "The Role of Agriculture in Ensuring Food Security in Developing Countries: Considerations in the Context of the Problem of Sustainable Food Production," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 12(13), pages 1-1, July.
    11. Wang, Sun Ling & Newton, Doris J., 2015. "Productivity and Efficiency of U.S. Field Crop Farms: A Look at Farm Size and Operator’s Gender," 2015 AAEA & WAEA Joint Annual Meeting, July 26-28, San Francisco, California 205344, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    12. Carolina Cosculluela-Martínez, 2020. "Sustainable Knowledge Investment Increases Employment and GDP in the Spanish Agricultural Sector More Than Other Investments," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 12(8), pages 1-1, April.
    13. Dutta, Ritwik & Saghaian, Syed, 2015. "A Chronological Study of Total Factor Productivity and Agricultural Growth in U.S. Agriculture," 2015 Annual Meeting, January 31-February 3, 2015, Atlanta, Georgia 196953, Southern Agricultural Economics Association.
    14. Mishra, Ashok K. & Kumar, Anjani & Joshi, Pramod K. & D'souza, Alwin, 2016. "Impact of contracts in high yielding varieties seed production on profits and yield: The case of Nepal," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 110-121.
    15. Dumortier, Jerome, 2016. "Changing agricultural land-use in the United States and its implications for ecosystem services," 2016 Annual Meeting, July 31-August 2, Boston, Massachusetts 235653, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    16. Thompson, Wyatt & Dewbre, Joe & Pieralli, Simone & Schroeder, Kateryna & Pérez Domínguez, Ignacio & Westhoff, Patrick, 2019. "Long-term crop productivity response and its interaction with cereal markets and energy prices," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 84(C), pages 1-9.
    17. Robert G. Chambers & Simone Pieralli, 2020. "The Sources of Measured US Agricultural Productivity Growth: Weather, Technological Change, and Adaptation," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 102(4), pages 1198-1226, August.
    18. dos Santos Alves, Camila Elisa & Belarmino, Luiz Clovis & Padula, Antonio Domingos, 2017. "Feedstock diversification for biodiesel production in Brazil: Using the Policy Analysis Matrix (PAM) to evaluate the impact of the PNPB and the economic competitiveness of alternative oilseeds," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 109(C), pages 297-309.

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    Keywords

    Agricultural and Food Policy; Labor and Human Capital; Production Economics; Productivity Analysis; Teaching/Communication/Extension/Profession;
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