Agricultural Industrialization, Policy, and Crop Diversity in the U.S.: A Panel Data Analysis, 1978-2007

Client: (Research)
Faculty: Amy Ellen Schwartz, Johanna Lacoe
Team: Zayne Abdessalam, Fernando Henao, Shana Wright
Year: 2010
Farming practices in the United States have shifted dramatically over the past 30 years, trending toward increased use of factory farms and single crop production. Evidence has emerged that these types of input intensive agricultural methods come at steep environmental, health, and social costs that may not be offset by benefits. This study examined federal and state policies to assess their impact on farm ownership structure and crop diversity. In order to compare diversity trends across states from 1978 to 2007, the Capstone team composed various county level crop indices based on models suggested in existing literature. Using panel data constructed from the Census of Agriculture, the team then analyzed policy as a contributor to state agricultural landscapes, ranging from industrial monoculture to diverse cropping. This study focused on analyzing the effects of state and federal policies on crop diversity as a vehicle for understanding the role government policy plays in impacting sustainable agriculture.