Publication Type: Oral PresentationAbstract: This study compares pasture-based dairy farms in the Midwest and Northeast to assess their relative competitiveness vis-à-vis biofuel production.
Objectives: This study will: 1) develop farm-level estimates of acres in pasture and other uses with potential for biomass production on dairy farms in selected states; 2) identify the characteristics and location of pasture-based dairy operations; 3) calculate farm-level economic performance measures and assess factors influencing technical efficiency using regression procedures; and 4) evaluate opportunities for converting land to corn grain or biomass production.
Data Sources: The USDA 1997-2006 NASS June agricultural surveys, 1996-2006 ARMS data from phase III, and 1993, 2000, and 2005 Cost of Production surveys with explicit information on harvested cropland (including hay), pasture (improved and permanent), and other acres with potential for biomass production will be used to compare costs and returns and evaluate the viability of corn grain or biomass production on dairy farms.
Preliminary Sample Results: Comparing Wisconsin (WI) dairy farms with those in Agricultural Statistical Districts in northern and western Pennsylvania (PA) shows contrasts in key characteristics: hay acres [alfalfa: 53-WI, 32-PA, other hay; 7-WI, 125-PA], pasture acres [31-WI, 40-PA], and other acres [54-WI, 108-PA] with potential for biomass (not harvested or pastured). Technical efficiency scores appear comparable between these two examples, but estimates of scale efficiency, net return on assets, and crop yields are lower in Pennsylvania. These results suggest some dairy farms that are less economically competitive may have potential to improve their relative competitiveness through land conversion to biomass production.