Abstract: We use field-level data to estimate the response of corn and soybean acreage to price shocks. Our sample contains more than 8 million observations derived from satellite imagery and includes every cultivated field in Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana. We estimate that aggregate crop acreage responds more to price shocks in the short run than in the long run, and we show theoretically how the benefits of crop rotation generate this response pattern. In essence, farmers who change crops due to a price shock have an incentive to switch back to the previous crop to capture the benefits of crop rotation. Our result contradicts the long-held belief that agricultural supply responds gradually to price shocks through partial adjustment. We would not have obtained this result had we used county-level panel data. Standard econometric methods applied to county-level data produce estimates consistent with partial adjustment. We show that this apparent partial adjustment is illusory, and we demonstrate how it arises from the fact that fields in the same county are more similar to each other than to fields in other counties. This result underscores the importance of using models with appropriate micro-foundations and cautions against inferring micro-level rigidities from inertia in aggregate panel data. Our preferred estimate of the own-price long-run elasticity of corn acreage is 0.29, and the cross-price elasticity is −0.22. The corresponding elasticities for soybean acreage are 0.26 and −0.33. Our estimated short-run elasticities are 37% larger than their long-run counterparts.

Crop Supply Dynamics and the Illusion of Partial Adjustment. Nathan P. Hendricks, Aaron Smith and Daniel A. Sumner, American Journal of Agricultural Economics 2014.