Farm Labor: Key Conceptual And Measurement Issues On The Route To Better Farm Cost And Return Estimates
This paper examines methods frequently used by agricultural economists to measure the cost of farm labor, including operator and other unpaid, and to provide insights for improving them. The tradition is broken of treating labor and management separately, and labor is defined as encompassing all the productive activities of individuals or human agents used in a business, including farming. Conceptual issues are first addressed: (1) the nature of economic cost and the cost of unpaid labor and (2) time allocation in agricultural household models where an individual's annual time endowment is allocated potentially to leisure, farm work, and off- farm work. Measurement issues are addressed second: (1) specific methods for improving the measurement of the cost of farm labor and (2) specific procedures for estimating the opportunity cost of operator and unpaid farm labor. The overall goal is to obtain better farm cost and return estimates.
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