Date of Award

Fall 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Agricultural Economics

First Advisor

Ken Foster

Committee Chair

Ken Foster

Committee Member 1

Roman Keeney

Committee Member 2

Katherine Boys

Committee Member 3

Michael Boehlje

Committee Member 4

Michael Delgado


This dissertation investigates the effect of US commodity support payment on agricultural producer decisions during the "decoupled" regime. Particular attention is paid to the national optimal output mix, input proportions, and farm level changes in scale operations. While "decoupled" payments were instated to comply with WTO guidelines, where tax payer dollars cannot be spent to alter agricultural outputs and /or on farm input decisions, evidence suggests that such payments are far from being decoupled. At the national level, this dissertation finds evidence for mild labor input using and capital input economizing behavior. Substantial land input economizing behavior and moderate material input using behavior due to scale effects of crop production is also observed. However, such a policy does not appear to alter the optimal output mix. The finding that government payments alter the scale of national crop production is further validated while looking at the farm level changes in scale of operation. Farm level data was analyzed using quantile regressions, where the effect of payments on the entire distribution of conditional farm size was quantified. The findings suggest that government payments do increase farm size at some parts of the conditional distribution and not others, and these effects are bigger for larger farms. This dissertation provides empirical evidence that commodity support programs provide advantage to large farming operations in terms of increasing scale of operation. Perhaps as heterogeneous farmers enlarge or diminish their share of agricultural production, the marketplace systematically selects those with similar management strategies or technological capacities in each case, thus shifting the national production technology.