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North Castle Books

The Economics of American Agriculture: Evolution and Global Development
Authored by: Steven C. Blank

Cloth ISBN: 978-0-7656-2228-0 Paper ISBN: 978-0-7656-2229-7
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USD: $112.95 USD: $54.95
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Available to all countries
Information: 488pp. Tables, figures, maps, equations, bibliographic references, glossary, index.
Publication Date: April 2008.  


Description: This book answers the questions: what is happening to American agriculture, and why? Steven C. Blank uses portfolio theory to analyze both macro- and microeconomic data that paints a clear picture of the trends in agriculture, and explains why these trends are consistent with market evolution and global economic development. He clarifies agriculture's specific role in economic development with a focus on the current and future globalizing commodity markets.

The book features empirical research that demonstrates the link between farm-level investment decisions and regional and national economic trends. It shows how the dynamic environment of industrialization and globalization of agriculture is part of a continuing development that is driven by technological innovation. This all points to a future with a very different agricultural production sector and some extremely important policy choices that will face the entire country.

Selected Contents:

List of Tables and Figures

Part 1. American Agriculture and Globalization
1. Is American Agriculture Shrinking?
Introduction to the Big Questions
The Past Is Prologue
Is American Agriculture Shrinking?
Some Implications of a Shrinking Agricultural Sector
Is a Shrinking American Agriculture a "Bad" Thing?
The Past is Prologue, Again

2. American Agriculture's Life Cycle
The Life Cycle Model and Industry Analysis
A Formal Model of Agriculture's Life Cycle
Methods for Sorting Through the Questions
Empirical Results for American Agriculture
Concluding Comments and Opening Arguments

3. Profit Patterns Across American Agriculture
Propositions to be Evaluated
Road Map for Discovery
Exploration Results
Implications of the Strong/Weak States' Results
What Do the Strong/Weak Performing States Have in Common?
The Final Talley

4. Agricultural Profits and Farm Household Wealth
The Farm Household Model
Method to the Madness
Empirical Results
Implications of the Results

Part 2. The Economics of Agriculture and Global Development

5. The Economic Food Chain of Global Development
The Economic Food Chain
Can the United States Leave Agriculture Entirely?
Why Would a Country Want to Leave Agriculture?
What About Comparative Advantage?
Implications of It All
Conclusions and Propositions

6. Commodities and the Profit Squeeze
The Bottom Line
Dealing With the Squeeze
Local Decisions
Why Is American Agriculture Being Squeezed?
The Bottom Bottom Line

7. Technology as Catalyst and Treadmill
Technology Is the Catalyst
Harvest Mechanization Helps Agriculture Remain Competitive
Technology as Treadmill
Concluding Comments: Surfing on a Tsunami

8. Economic Development and the Irony of American Agriculture's Technical Progress
Economic Development Basics
Management: The Fourth Resource
The Irony of American Agriculture's Technical Progress

Part 3. Global Agriculture's Effect on Market Evolution

9. Farmland Values and Uses as Indicators of National Wealth
Market Marginal Land
Farmland Values
Land Uses
Idle Farmland and Global Capacity
Global Capacity and Land Use as a National and Local Responsibility

10. International Mutual Dependence
Short Supplies Created International Trade
Conflict Between Local and Global Comparative Advantage
Mutual Dependence as a Revolving Door
Mutual Dependence Is the Game of Life

Part 4. American Production Agriculture's Response

11. Producers as Investors and Portfolio Managers
Decision Rules in Agriculture
When All Assets Are in Agriculture
When Crop Portfolio Changes Are Needed
When Assets Must Leave Agriculture
Land-Use Patterns
Concluding Comments

12. Measuring Risk for Decision Making
Income Risk and Its Components
Methods of Reducing Income Risk
Portfolio Approach to Risk Reduction
Empirical Methods and Results
13. Portfolio Decision Making of Farmland Owners and Tenants
A Portfolio Model of Cropping Opportunities
Effects of Changes in Leasing Rates
The Returns to Risk in Practice
Summary and Conclusions
14. Is the Market Failing Producers Who Wish to Manage Risks?
Survey Results Regarding Risk Needs
Analysis of Risk Sources
Markets for Risk Management Tools: Failing, Missing or Incomplete?
Risk Tools in Commodity Markets
Risky Business
Appendix: Who Uses Price Risk Management Tools?
15. Hedging with Off-Farm Income
Some Perspective
A Portfolio Model of Off-Farm Income Effects
Effects of Off-Farm Income Levels
Empirical Analysis
Economies of Scale and Household Off-Farm Income
Summary and Policy Implications

16. Commodity Market Evolution
Product Quality and Market Evolution
General Proposition
Economics of the Market Evolution Process
How Big Can Organic Markets Get?
How Big Should Organic Markets Get? (And What Are the Policy Implications?)
How Big Will Organic Markets Get?
Tying Up the Loose Ends

17. Regional Agriculture as a National Industry
Spatial Agriculture
Land-Use Evolution
Data and Methods
Spatial Econometric Modeling
Results of Data Structure Ques
Results of Agricultural Sector Performance
Economic Implications of the Spatial Autocorrelation
What Types of Counties Performed Best?
Evolution of the Agricultural Sector in the Context of the Gravity Model
Looking to the Future

Part 5. American Agricultural Policy Questions

18. The Role of American Agribusiness
Market Evolution and the Relationship Between Agriculture and Agribusiness
Blending Agriculture and Agribusiness for Success
American Agribusiness's Role in Directing . . .

19. Is Agriculture a "Way of Life" or a Business?
A Look at the Record
Profit Is a Key
Answering the Big Question
The Never-Ending Debates
Wealth is the Real Key
The Business of an Agricultural "Way of Life"
What is a "Farm"?
Policy Questions and Implications

20. The Role of American Agricultural Policy
Which Farms Receive Government Payments?
Where Is Agricultural Policy Going?
American Agricultural Policy in a Global Market
Where It All Leads

Glossary of Variables and Mathematical Definitions
About the Author

Comment(s): "There are so many times when a course should bridge the gap between agribusiness principles, the policy environment that food and agricultural firms face and the bigger trends driving economic development in the US and The Economics of American Agriculture finally provides the readings and context to guide such a complex discussion. Steve Blank provides a framework to guide a well informed discussion of the changes occurring in the US, without suggesting any bias on the positive or negative aspects of such changes ... but hinting at the role policies may play in a few alternative futures for the industry." -- Dawn Thilmany, Colorado State University

Review(s): "Blank has developed an excellent, accessible book presenting his view of the current state of the economics of American Agriculture. His book is an excellent reference for students examining the future of American Agriculture. Highly recommended. General readers; students at all levels; faculty and practitioners." -- Choice

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