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Commodity Payments, Farm Business Survival, and Farm Size Growth


  • Key, Nigel D.
  • Roberts, Michael J.


In the last 25 years, U.S. crop farms have steadily declined in number and grown in average size, as production has shifted to larger operations. Larger farms tend to receive more commodity program payments because most payments are tied to a farm’s current or historical production, but whether payments have contributed to farm growth is uncertain. This study uses farm-level data from the census of agriculture to determine whether there is a statistical relationship between farm commodity program payments and greater concentration in production. The analysis indicates that, at the regional level, higher commodity program payments per acre are associated with subsequent farm growth. Also, higher payments per acre are associated with higher rates of farm survival and growth.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:uersrr:55968

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Kimhi, Ayal & Bollman, Ray D., 1999. "Family farm dynamics in Canada and Israel: the case of farm exits," Agricultural Economics of Agricultural Economists, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 21(1), August.
    2. Michael J. Roberts & Barrett Kirwan & Jeffrey Hopkins, 2003. "The Incidence of Government Program Payments on Agricultural Land Rents: The Challenges of Identification," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 85(3), pages 762-769.
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    6. Evans, David S & Jovanovic, Boyan, 1989. "An Estimated Model of Entrepreneurial Choice under Liquidity Constraints," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(4), pages 808-827, August.
    7. Nigel Key & Michael J. Roberts, 2006. "Government Payments and Farm Business Survival," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 88(2), pages 382-392.
    8. Lopez, Ramon E., 1984. "Estimating labor supply and production decisions of self-employed farm producers," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 24(1), pages 61-82.
    9. Bates, Timothy, 1990. "Entrepreneur Human Capital Inputs and Small Business Longevity," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 72(4), pages 551-559, November.
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    Cited by:

    1. MacDonald, James M., 2011. "Why Are Farms Getting Larger? The Case Of The U.S," 51st Annual Conference, Halle, Germany, September 28-30, 2011 115361, German Association of Agricultural Economists (GEWISOLA).
    2. Ani L. Katchova & Mary Clare Ahearn, 2017. "Farm entry and exit from US agriculture," Agricultural Finance Review, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 77(1), pages 50-63, May.
    3. Daniel A. Sumner, 2014. "American Farms Keep Growing: Size, Productivity, and Policy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 28(1), pages 147-166, Winter.
    4. Wenbiao Cai, 2015. "Technology, Policy Distortions and the Rise of Large Farms," Departmental Working Papers 2015-03, The University of Winnipeg, Department of Economics.
    5. Adamson, Dwight W. & Waugh, Andrew, 2012. "Farm Operator Entry and Exit Behavior: A Longitudinal Analysis," 2012 Annual Meeting, August 12-14, 2012, Seattle, Washington 124053, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    6. Bollman, Ray & Ferguson, Shon, 2016. "The Local Impacts of Agricultural Subsidies: Evidence from the Canadian Prairies," Working Paper Series 1129, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.


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