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The Economic Costs of Environmental Regulation in U.S. Dairy Farming: A Directional Distance Function Approach

Eric Njuki and Boris Bravo-Ureta

American Journal of Agricultural Economics, 2015, vol. 97, issue 4, 1087-1106

Abstract: Analyses of the costs of regulating greenhouse gas emissions from dairy production, which could be used to assess the effectiveness of alternative policy measures, is a missing link in the literature. This article addresses this gap by establishing the economic impact associated with a hypothetical greenhouse gas environmental regulatory regime across major dairy producing counties in the United States. In doing so, the article makes three important contributions to the literature. First, it develops a comprehensive pollution index based on Environmental Protection Agency methodologies, which contrasts with previous studies that rely on partial measures based only on surplus nitrogen stemming from the over-application of fertilizer. Second, the article uses a directional output distance function, an approach that has not been employed previously to evaluate polluting technologies in the U.S. dairy sector. Third, the article incorporates a four-way error approach that accounts for unobserved county heterogeneity, time-invariant persistent technical efficiency, time-varying transient technical efficiency, and a random error. The results indicate that regulating greenhouse gas emissions from dairy farming would induce a 5-percentage point increase in average technical efficiency. In addition, the economic costs of implementing this hypothetical regulatory framework exhibit significant spatial variation across counties in the United States.

Date: 2015
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American Journal of Agricultural Economics is currently edited by Madhu Khanna, Brian E. Roe, James Vercammen and JunJie Wu

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