Optimal Risk in Agricultural Contracts

14 Pages Posted: 6 Mar 2011

See all articles by Ethan A. Ligon

Ethan A. Ligon

University of California, Berkeley; Giannini Foundation

Date Written: March 4, 2011


It is a commonplace observation that risk-averse farmers ought to prefer less risk. In this paper, we provide three qualifications to this commonplace. First, we note that (properly defined) “less risk” need not imply “smaller variance.” Second, we note that when farmers produce under contract, there may be an important tension between risk and incentives, and we provide a simple characterization of the optimal risk in any production system. Third, we note that while at the margin the behavior of risk-averse farmers may appear to be nearly risk-neutral, it does not follow that one can generally treat such producers “as if” they were risk-neutral without being greatly led astray.

Suggested Citation

Ligon, Ethan A., Optimal Risk in Agricultural Contracts (March 4, 2011). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1776807 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1776807

Ethan A. Ligon (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley ( email )

207 Giannini Hall #3310
Berkeley, CA 94720-3310
United States

Giannini Foundation

UC Davis
Davis, CA 95616
United States

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