The Transformation of U.S. Livestock Agriculture: Scale, Efficiency, and Risks
by James MacDonald
and William McBride
Economic Information Bulletin No. (EIB-43) 46 pp, January 2009
Cover image for ERS report "The Transformation of U.S. Livestock Agriculture: Scale, Efficiency, and Risks" (EIB-43)
U.S. livestock production has shifted to much larger and more specialized farms, and the various stages of input provision, farm production, and processing are now much more tightly coordinated through formal contracts and shared ownership of assets. Important financial advantages have driven these structural changes, which in turn have boosted productivity growth in the livestock sector. But structural changes can also generate environmental and health risks for society, as industrialization concentrates animals and animal wastes in localized areas. This report relies on farm-level data to detail the nature, causes, and effects of structural changes in livestock production.
Keywords: Livestock, dairy, broilers, hogs, fed cattle, farm structure, scale economies, contract agriculture, CAFOs, growth-promoting antibiotics
In this publication...
Report summary, Pdf file 155 kb | HTML
Abstract, Contents, and Summary, Pdf file 46 kb
Introduction, Pdf file 25 kb
How Has the Structure of Animal Agriculture Changed?, Pdf file 150 kb
Drivers of Structural Change: Technology and Scale Economies, Pdf file 199 kb
Other Drivers of Structural Change, Pdf file 22 kb
Impacts of Structural Change, Pdf file 176 kb
Conclusions, Pdf file 17 kb
References, Pdf file 23 kb
Entire report, Pdf file 675 kb
Charts and graphs (in .png format) from this report are available in the .zip file listed below. The .zip file also contains a document (readme.txt) that lists the name and title of each chart or graph file.
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