Date of Award:

12-2018

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Economics and Finance

Committee

Sherzod Akhundjanov

Committee

Man-Keun Kim

Committee

Ryan Bosworth

Abstract

This paper demonstrates that the distribution of county level agricultural land size in the United States is best described by a power-law distribution, a distribution that displays extremely heavy tails. This indicates that the majority of farmland exists in the upper tail. Our analysis indicates that the top 5% of agricultural counties account for about 25% of agricultural land between 1997-2012. The power-law distribution of farm size has important implications for the design of more efficient regional and national agricultural policies as counties close to the mean account for little of the cumulative distribution of total agricultural land. This has consequences for more efficient management and government oversight as a disruption in one of the counties containing a large amount of farmland (due to natural disasters, for instance) could have nationwide consequences for agricultural production and prices. In particular, the policy makers and government agencies can monitor about 25% of total agricultural land by overseeing just 5% of counties.

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