Essays on the Economics of Policy and Regulation in Agricultural and Food Markets

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This dissertation analyzes the empirical implications of selected policies and regulations applied to agricultural and food markets in the United States. It focuses on the policies at the regional level where the role of government influences the dynamics of agricultural markets and consumer behavior. In the first essay, in Chapter 2, I examine how regulation affects household diversity-seeking behavior for alcohol. Here I hypothesize that different state-level regulatory regimes in alcohol retail sales impact shopping convenience. I use a consumer panel dataset to examine household purchases of alcohol between 2004 and 2016. By focusing on a subset of households that moved between regulatory regimes in the pooled cross-sectional dataset, I am able to treat the time-invariant regulatory rules as a natural experiment to identify the causal impact of grocery store sales of alcohol on consumer choice diversification. The key finding suggests consumers further diversify their product selections in states that allow alcohol sales in grocery stores which reduces consumer's shopping costs and increases convenience. In the second essay, in Chapter 3, I focus on the effects of crop insurance on the supply of specialty crops in the United States. I use a nationally-representative farm-level dataset to evaluate the impacts of crop insurance on the acreage and crop value of fruits and vegetables. The empirical strategy addresses the potential endogeneity between the provision of crop insurance and the economic significance of the crops. In assessing how the availability of crop insurance affects supply, I use a number of variables to instrument insurance availability for fruits and vegetables. Instruments include i) the number of policies sold and premium subsidies for field crops within the same county, ii) the number of policies sold and premium subsidies for fruits and vegetable crops in the neighboring counties, which characterize various degrees of insurance demand. The two-stage findings suggest that crop insurance has increased both the harvested acreage and production value of fruits and vegetables. In the final essay, presented in Chapter 4, I worked with a team to evaluate several risk management strategies for cherry growers facing crop losses due to spring frost and excessive summer rain. Here we developed a framework to model stochastic prices, yields, and revenue for sweet cherries in New York and Michigan in a Monte Carlo simulation framework. This research constructed a novel dataset comprised of state-level market information for sweet cherries, station-level weather data, and the monitored performance of high tunnel at horticultural trials from research farms. Our results show that when there are significant price premiums for early season fruit, a high tunnel system could be the optimal strategy as it has the capacity to generate higher net profits compared to a variety of alternative strategies using insurance products.

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alcoholic beverages; retail regulation; specialty crops; Agriculture economics; risk management; Crop Insurance


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Committee Chair

Rickard, Bradley J.

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Committee Member

Turvey, Calum G.
Ifft, Jennifer Ellen

Degree Discipline

Applied Economics and Management

Degree Name

Ph.D., Applied Economics and Management

Degree Level

Doctor of Philosophy

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Government Document




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Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International


dissertation or thesis

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