Economics of Structural Change and Competition in the Food System

The economics of structural change and competition in U.S. agriculture and food markets was the subject of a conference on Dec. 7, 2009.  Presentations from the conference are posted below.

In recent years rapid changes in technology and economic conditions have driven structural changes in every part of the food system. “These changes have raised questions about how food and agricultural markets are performing,” says Farm Foundation, NFP President Neil Conklin. The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Justice have announced their intent to hold a series of hearings on these issues beginning in March 2010.

“To enhance the quality of those discussions, it is important that the most current, objective information and independent research on the economics of structural changes and competition in the food system are in the hands of stakeholders, policy makers and regulators before those hearings begin,” Conklin says.

The  Dec. 7 conference was organized as an opportunity to learn more about current academic research on the economics of structural changes in agriculture and food markets. The event was a collaboration of Farm Foundation, the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association (AAEA) Foundation; the Food and Agricultural Marketing Policy Section of AAEA; and the USDA Economists Group.

While discussions may have touched on some of the issues that may be addressed in the USDA/DOJ hearings, the Dec. 7 conference was an independent event.  “The intent of the conference was to put objective information into the hands of industry leaders, policy makers and regulators as they examine the economics of structural change and competition,” Conklin added.

Here are the conference presentations.

Structural Change in U.S. Agricultural and Food Markets: Implications for Competition
Richard Sexton, University of California, Davis

Economics of Competition in the U.S. Dairy Industry
Brian Gould, University of Wisconsin
Daniel Sumner, University of California, Davis
Jeffrey Perloff, University of California, Berkeley

Economics of Competition in the U.S. Seed Industry
GianCarlo Moschini, Iowa State University
Kyle Stiegert, University of Wisconsin

Economics of Competition in the U.S. Livestock Industry
Cattle: Clement Ward, Oklahoma State University
Hogs: John Lawrence, Iowa State University
Cross-cutting issues:  Richard Sexton, University of California, Davis

Economics of Competition in Food Wholesaling and Retailing
Timothy Richards, Arizona State University

Synthesis and Discussion
Daniel Sumner, University of California, Davis

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