The Transformation of U.S. Livestock Agriculture Scale, Efficiency, and Risks

46 Pages Posted: 6 Mar 2009

See all articles by James M. MacDonald

James M. MacDonald

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) - Economic Research Service (ERS)

William D. McBride

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) - Economic Research Service (ERS)

Date Written: January 1, 2009

Abstract

U.S. livestock production has shifted to much larger and more specialized farms, and the various stages of input provision, farm production, and processing are now much more tightly coordinated through formal contracts and shared ownership of assets. Important financial advantages have driven these structural changes, which in turn have boosted productivity growth in the livestock sector. But structural changes can also generate environmental and health risks for society, as industrialization concentrates animals and animal wastes in localized areas. This report relies on farm-level data to detail the nature, causes, and effects of structural changes in livestock production.

Keywords: Livestock, dairy, broilers, hogs, fed cattle, farm structure, scale economies, contract agriculture, CAFO's, growth-promoting antibiotics

Suggested Citation

MacDonald, James M. and McBride, William D., The Transformation of U.S. Livestock Agriculture Scale, Efficiency, and Risks (January 1, 2009). Economic Information Bulletin No. 43. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1354028 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1354028

James M. MacDonald (Contact Author)

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) - Economic Research Service (ERS) ( email )

355 E Street, SW
Washington, DC 20024-3221
United States
(202) 694-5610 (Phone)

William D. McBride

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) - Economic Research Service (ERS) ( email )

355 E Street, SW
Washington, DC 20024-3221
United States
(202) 694-5577 (Phone)

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