Volume 34, Issue 2, August 2009

By: Brester, Gary W.; Marsh, John M.; Atwood, Joseph A.
Conventional wisdom appears to support the thesis that declines in USDA’s farmer’s share-of-the-retail-dollar (FS) statistics are indicators of low returns to agricultural production. We estimate changes in cattle and hog FS statistics and their relationship with producer surplus (PS) for changes in various exogenous factors. The method accounts for correlations among structural parameter estimates while simulating multivariate distributions of joint parameter realizations. The simulations indicate that relationships between FS and PS depend on the source of exogenous shocks. The lack of informational content in FS statistics suggests these data should not be used for policy purposes.
By: Goodwin, Barry K.; Smith, Vincent H.
Dynamic relationships among three classes of wheat are investigated using threshold VAR models that incorporate the effects of protein availability. Changes in the stock of protein are found to generate significant responses in the prices of hard red spring wheat and hard red winter wheat, but not soft red wheat. The responses to identical changes in protein stocks are larger when the magnitudes of deviations of protein stocks from normal levels are large. Shocks to the prices of individual classes of wheat result in complex responses in the prices of the other wheat classes. Notably, however, a shock to the price of hard red winter wheat appears to result in little or no response in the price of hard spring wheat, though importantly, the opposite is not true.
By: Xia, Tian; Sexton, Richard J.
We study a heretofore unexamined type of product differentiation, horizontally differentiated products with differential costs, and apply the analysis to retail pricing of fluid milk products. The theoretical models yield unique predictions for the relationship among prices of the four horizontally differentiated fluid milk products (skim, 1%, 2%, and whole milk) and the impacts of butterfat and nonfat milk costs on prices, depending upon the form of retail competition. An empirical analysis of retail milk pricing for four major cities in California enables tests to be conducted of which form of behavior best characterizes grocery retailing in these cities.
By: Sanders, Dwight R.; Irwin, Scott H.; Merrin, Robert P.
The forecasting content of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s Commitments of Traders (COT) report is investigated. Bivariate Granger causality tests show very little evidence that traders’ positions are useful in forecasting (leading) returns in 10 agricultural futures markets. However, there is substantial evidence that traders respond to price changes. In particular, noncommercial traders display a tendency for trend following. The other trader classifications display mixed styles, perhaps indicating those trader categories capture a variety of traders. The results generally do not support use of the COT data in predicting price movements in agricultural futures markets.
By: Franken, Jason R.V.; Pennings, Joost M.E.; Garcia, Philip
Risk reduction and transaction costs are often used to explain contracting in the U.S. hog industry with little empirical support. Using a unified conceptual framework that draws from risk behavior and transaction cost theories, in combination with unique survey and accounting data, we demonstrate that risk preferences and asset specificity impact Illinois producers’ use of contracts and spot markets. In particular, producers’ investments in specific hog genetics and human capital are related to selection of long-term marketing contracts over spot markets. Producers who perceive greater levels of price risk and/or are more averse are more (less) likely to use contracts (spot markets).
By: Lohr, Luanne; Park, Timothy A.
Although organic farm activities seem to demand year-round employees, seasonal workers dominate the organic labor market. We use the elasticity of complementarity to assess input substitutability and predict adjustments. Farm size and farm workers are complementary inputs. Incentives that encourage farmers to expand employment of year-round and seasonal workers raise the marginal product and rates of return to organic acreage in relative wage payments. A commitment to local sales reduces organic farm incomes. A shift to local sales leads to decreased use of seasonal workers but at higher wages, with smaller adjustments in the wages of year-round workers.
By: Escalante, Cesar L.; Epperson, James E.; Raghunathan, Uthra
This study analyzes the courts’ denial of women farmers’ motion for class-action certification of their lawsuits alleging gender discrimination in Farm Service Agency (FSA) lending decisions. The plaintiffs’ claim of “commonality” of circumstances in women farmers’ dealings with FSA is tested using a four-year sampling of Georgia FSA loan applications. The econometric framework has been developed after accounting for the separability of loan approval and amount decisions, as well as endogeneity issues through instrumental variable estimation. This study’s results do not produce overwhelming evidence of gender bias in FSA loan approval decisions and in favor of the “commonality” argument among Georgia FSA farm loan applicants.
By: Hansen, LeRoy T.
This analysis estimates the profitability of restoring wetlands for the sale of carbon offsets. Results indicate that about 7% to 12% of the recently restored grassed wetlands of the prairie pothole and high plains regions and 20% to 35% of the forested wetlands of the Mississippi alluvial valley and Gulf-Atlantic coastal flats regions could have carbon offset values that exceed the cost of restoring the wetland and the opportunity cost of moving the land out of agricultural production. Given the uncertainties, the analysis applies conservative estimates of wetlands’ costs, offset prices, and wetlands’ effects on greenhouse gases.