Bob Cropf

Role of Government in Farm Technology

In 1 on February 19, 2009 at 7:18 AM

I haven’t come up with any hard numbers, but I did go back to Adams & Brock (1995) The Structure of American Industry, 9th edition, to the chapter about agriculture by Suits. Suits writes on page 19:

…we need not depend on the farm to develop its own technical improvements, as part of this job has been undertaken by the laboratories of state universities and agricultural experiment stations. To a far greater extent, however, improvements have arisen fromt he work of farm equipment firms, chemical manufacturers, and other suppliers to modern agriculture. [emphasis mine].

So, according to Suits, the private sector is much more responsible for the technological innovation in that sector as well. I would note, however, that Okun’s unconventional definition of joint inputs (1975, p. 60), could be used as an argument to give the government more credit. The extension systems out of the land grant universities serve as a vital means for diffusion of information and best practices. In other words, they create the pathways that private sector piggy backs off of (even unintentionally) to spread the use of their technological innovations… probably still wouldn’t reach the bar of the government being a “major” player.

-KC

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