Assessing the response of farm households to dairy policy reform in Israel

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2007-06-13
Authors
Kimhi, Ayal
Rubin, Ofir
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Economics

The Department of Economic Science was founded in 1898 to teach economic theory as a truth of industrial life, and was very much concerned with applying economics to business and industry, particularly agriculture. Between 1910 and 1967 it showed the growing influence of other social studies, such as sociology, history, and political science. Today it encompasses the majors of Agricultural Business (preparing for agricultural finance and management), Business Economics, and Economics (for advanced studies in business or economics or for careers in financing, management, insurance, etc).

History
The Department of Economic Science was founded in 1898 under the Division of Industrial Science (later College of Liberal Arts and Sciences); it became co-directed by the Division of Agriculture in 1919. In 1910 it became the Department of Economics and Political Science. In 1913 it became the Department of Applied Economics and Social Science; in 1924 it became the Department of Economics, History, and Sociology; in 1931 it became the Department of Economics and Sociology. In 1967 it became the Department of Economics, and in 2007 it became co-directed by the Colleges of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Business.

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1898–present

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  • Department of Economic Science (1898–1910)
  • Department of Economics and Political Science (1910-1913)
  • Department of Applied Economics and Social Science (1913–1924)
  • Department of Economics, History and Sociology (1924–1931)
  • Department of Economics and Sociology (1931–1967)

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Abstract

After nearly fifty years of stability and stagnation of dairy market regulations in Israel, a dramatic policy reform has been enacted in 1999. The reform enabled farm households, for the first time, to trade production quotas. In addition, the reform signaled to farmers that milk prices will gradually go down in real terms, and therefore only producers who expand and become more efficient will prevail. The reform allowed for generous financial support for investment in expansion, but also required the adoption of environmental regulations which could be costly to many farm families. This paper uses data from a census of small family-operated dairy enterprises that was conducted in 2001, in order to analyze the response of farm households to the reform. The results imply that the reform was particularly attractive for already strong producers. Weaker producers are less attracted by the reform and will likely fade away by default in the long run. Another finding is that intergenerational succession is an important element of decision making of milk producers. Hence, the response of farm households to changes in the economic environment cannot be disentangled from the occupational decisions of their offspring. These findings imply that the desired structural change in the family-farm milk production sector will take much longer than expected, essentially as long as the current generation of producers is around. This requires, perhaps, an extension of the reform period or a change in incentives in favor of the smaller and older producers.

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