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Commodity Payments, Farm Business Survival, and Farm Size Growth

by Nigel Key and Michael J. Roberts

Economic Research Report No. (ERR-51) 47 pp, November 2007

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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.

Keywords: agricultural economics, farm commodity payments, commodity program, producers, cropland, crops, farm structure, cropland concentration, production, census of agriculture, agricultural payments, farm size, farm survival, consolidation

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Last updated: Sunday, May 27, 2012

For more information contact: Nigel Key and Michael J. Roberts

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