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Published May 28, 2019
A paper examining farm productivity and innovation, co-written by a faculty member in the University of Wyoming’s Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, has received honors from the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
UW College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Associate Professor Matt Andersen and collaborators will receive the 2019 Outstanding American Journal of Agricultural Economics (AJAE) Article Honorable Mention award for “A Century of U.S. Farm Productivity Growth: A Surge Then a Slowdown.”
They will receive the award Monday, June 10, at the association’s annual meeting in Atlanta. The article was published in the journal’s July 2018 edition.
“The AJAE is our top disciplinary journal, and receiving an honorable mention for the outstanding article award is a very noteworthy achievement,” says Ben Rashford, UW associate professor and head of the department.
Other authors are Julian Alston, distinguished professor, and Professor Aaron Smith, both in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at the University of California-Davis; and Philip Pardey, a professor in the Department of Applied Economics and director of the International Science and Technology Practice and Policy center, both at the University of Minnesota.
They examined changes in U.S. agricultural productivity patterns and found “sizable and significant slowdowns in the rate of productivity in recent decades,” they wrote. They also surmised the high rates of productivity in the latter part of the century were aberrations compared to the long-term trend.
The authors suggest waves of technological progress through the midcentury contributed to the surge of faster-than-normal productivity growth through the third quarter of the century and a slowdown toward the end of the 20th century extending into the present.
They also suggest a reduction in the growth of total spending on agricultural research and development was a precursor to the post-1990 sluggish agricultural productivity. They added that the extent to which the small research and development spending had on the slowdown is speculative.
The authors also caution weak U.S. agricultural productivity growth could have serious implications. The U.S. could see a widening competitiveness gap in the world if other countries do not have comparable slowdowns in productivity.