Demand and Supply Analysis of Farm, Farmer and Farm Family Data (working paper)

Authors: Poon, Kenneth; Weersink, Alfons; Deaton, Brady
Keywords: data demand, data supply, farm heterogeneity, policy
Issue Date: 2011-07
Series/ Report no.: SPAA working papers, 2011-8
Abstract: Canadian governments collect data on the agricultural sector through a variety of surveys, income tax filings, and support program applications. The definition of a census farm provides the benchmark to estimate aggregate commodity supply which is most critical to analyze and forecast commodity prices. Prices are also collected and made available, but there is growing concern about the lack of price data for contracted commodities. The farm and rural population characteristics are also adequately portrayed through the linkage of the Census of Agriculture with the long-form Census of Population (up to 2006) and the voluntary National Household Survey in 2011. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's typology captures different size and motivation for units of production, but broad inferences on the sector based on this characterization must recognize that it is only for unincorporated farms. The proposal to consider the individuals behind a unit of production in the determination of support eligibility would drive a large gap between data demands and the current supply of publically provided data. The potential change reflects the growing heterogeneity of the agricultural sector. The initial focus on the unit of production was appropriate for all users of the data. The unit of production was the farm and it was generally operated by a single farmer and it supported a single farm family. This no longer generally applies. This growing heterogeneity forces the objectives of agricultural policy to be clearly specified, i.e. efficiency vs. equity, but the political rhetoric has yet to catch up with the changes as the terms farm, farmer, and farm family are interchanged as if they were still one. The growing distinction between them may result in changes in the nature of the data collected on the sector. (DRAFT)DOWNLOAD HERE


Economics of Farm Income and Farm Structure
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