Babcock, Bruce A.

December, 2010

By: Paulson, Nicholas D.; Babcock, Bruce A.
The production literature has shown that inputs such as fertilizer can be defined as risk-increasing. However, farmers also consistently overapply nitrogen. A model of optimal input use under uncertainty is used to address this paradox. Using experimental data, a stochastic production relationship between yield and soil nitrate is estimated. Numerical results show that input uncertainty may cause farmers to overapply nitrogen. Survey data suggest that farmers are risk averse, but prefer small chances of high yields compared to small chances of crop failures when expected yields are equivalent. Furthermore, yield risk and yield variability are not equivalent.

August, 2008

By: Paulson, Nicholas D.; Babcock, Bruce A.
The successful expansion of the U.S crop insurance program has not eliminated ad hoc disaster assistance. An alternative currently being explored by Congress in preparation of the 2008 farm bill is a standing disaster relief program. One form such a program could take can be found in the area insurance programs currently offered by the U.S crop insurance program. Total per acre taxpayer costs of offering Group Risk Income Protection (GRIP) in Indiana, Illinois, and Iowa for corn and soybeans are estimated to have the ability to fund a country target revenue program at the 93% coverage level.

April, 2008

By: Carriquiry, Miguel A.; Babcock, Bruce A.; Hart, Chad E.
Effects of sampling error in estimation of farmers’ mean yields for crop insurance purposes and their implications for actuarial soundness are explored using farm-level corn yield data in Iowa. Results indicate that sampling error, combined with nonlinearities in the indemnity function, leads to empirically estimated insurance rates that exceed actuarially fair values. The difference depends on the coverage level, the number of observations used, and the participation strategy followed by farmers. A new estimator for mean yields based on the decomposition of farm yields into systemic and idiosyncratic components is proposed, which could lead to improved rate-making and reduce adverse selection.

December, 2002

By: Mitchell, Paul D.; Hurley, Terrance M.; Babcock, Bruce A.; Hellmich, Richard L.
Subsidies and fines are compared to voluntary and mandatory refuge insurance (insurance for pest damage on Bt corn refuge) as mechanisms for securing grower compliance with EPA refuge mandates. A conceptual model partially ranks mechanisms. Tradeoffs between mechanisms using grower welfare, payments to growers, and monitoring frequency are quantified empirically. Grower welfare is lowest with mandatory insurance because growers pay all costs, and is highest with direct refuge subsidies because public funds or companies subsidize all costs. Assuming typical premium loads and ignoring distribution considerations, we develop monitoring budgets for fines and subsidies, above which voluntary or mandatory insurance is better.

July, 2001

By: Hurley, Terrance M.; Babcock, Bruce A.; Hellmich, Richard L.
Genetically engineered crops offer farmers a new option for controlling pests. The high efficacy of these pesticidal crops, combined with the potential for widespread adoption, has raised concerns that pest resistance may prematurely diminish their value. In response to these concerns, the Environmental Protection Agency requires resistance management plans. Current resistance management plans rely on a high-dose refuge strategy. This analysis extends the current framework for evaluating high-dose refuge strategies to include a measure of agricultural productivity and conventional pesticide use. The economic tradeoff relative to agricultural productivity, conventional pesticide use, and pest resistance is assessed when Bt corn is planted to control the European corn borer.

December, 1999

By: Pautsch, Gregory R.; Babcock, Bruce A.; Breidt, F. Jay
Studies examining the value of switching to a variable rate technology (VRT) fertilizer program assume producers possess perfect soil nitrate information. In reality, producers estimate soil nitrate levels with soil sampling. The value of switching to a VRT program depends on the quality of the estimates and on how the estimates are used. Larger samples sizes, increased spatial correlation, and decreased variability improve the estimates and increase returns. Fertilizing strictly to the estimated field map fails to account for estimation risk. Returns increase if the soil sample information is used in a Bayesian fashion to update the soil nitrate beliefs in nonsampled sites.

December, 1998

By: Babcock, Bruce A.; Pautsch, Gregory R.
This study develops a model based on the yield potential of various soil types in 12 Iowa counties to estimate the potential value of switching from uniform to variable fertilizer rates. Results indicate modest increases in the gross returns over fertilizer costs, ranging from $7.43 to $1.52 per acre. The net profitability of variable-rate technology (VRT) is sensitive to the per acre costs of moving to a VRT program. Under the assumptions of the model, applying variable rates would increase yield by 0.05 to 0.5 bushels per acre, and would reduce fertilizer costs by $1.19 to $6.83 per acre.

December, 1995

By: Wu, JunJie; Babcock, Bruce A.
Green payment programs, where the government pays farmers directly for environmental benefits, are an alternative to the current method of achieving environmental benefits which restricts farming practices in exchange for deficiency payments. This article presents a voluntary green payment program using the principles of mechanism design under asymmetric information. Information asymmetry arises because the government knows only the distribution of farmers' production situations, rather than farm-specific information. The program is demonstrated with irrigated corn production in the Oklahoma high plains. A green payment program can reduce budget costs and pollution, while increasing the net social value of corn production.

July, 1993

By: Babcock, Bruce A.; Choi, E. Kwan; Feinerman, Eli
The risk premium and the probability premium are used to determine appropriate coefficients of absolute risk aversion under CARA utility. A defensible range of risk aversion coefficients is defined by the coefficients that correspond to risk premiums falling between 1 and 99% of the amount at risk or to probability premiums falling between .005 and .49 for a lottery that pays or loses a given sum. The consequences of ignoring risk premiums when selecting risk-aversion coefficients for representative decision makers are illustrated by calculation of the implied risk premium associated with the levels of absolute risk aversion assumed in six selected studies.

December, 1992

By: Babcock, Bruce A.; Blackmer, Alfred M.
The producer value of reducing temporal uncertainty concerning the level of soil nitrate is estimated for corn production in Iowa. The reduction in uncertainty is obtained through use of a late-spring nitrate test. Parametric representations of conditional densities of soil nitrates are used along with an estimated production function to estimate optimal nitrogen fertilizer applications under both uncertainty and certainty for a representative risk-neutral Iowa corn farm. Results indicate that decreasing uncertainty could reduce average fertilizer applications by up to 38% and that producer returns could be increased by up to $22.08/acre.