Essays on land cash rents, biofuels, and their interactions

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Du, Xiaodong
Major Professor
Dermot J. Hayes
David A. Hennessy
Committee Member
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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).

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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  • 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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Farmland cash rental markets is one general theme of this dissertation, with the first two essays addressing specific topics related to cash rental rates. A better understanding of the determinants of local cash rental rates and their adjustments to changing economic conditions is important because an increasing and significant portion of farmland is being farmed by tenant operators. Another common thread connecting all the three essays is that they attempt to analyze the impact of biofuels on cash rents, corn/soybean acreage allocation, and gasoline prices. The first essay seeks to establish the determinants of cropland cash rental rates in Iowa using a unique panel data set. It provides evidence on how responsive rental rates are to national commodity prices, in the short-run and in the long-run. These contributions allow us to comment on how closely the Ricardian Rent Theory approximates real-world rent determination. We find that it is an incomplete explanation, even in the long-run. The second essay is concerned with embedded real option components in cash rental rates. Traditional rent valuation methods are biased downward because they excludes the renter's flexibility to use more up-to-date price information when making crop and input intensity choices. We develop an asset pricing model and employ the Monte Carlo simulation to better understand this planting real option. The third essay explores the negative impact of ethanol production on wholesale gasoline prices. The impact varies considerably across regions and comes at the expense of refiners' profits. Based on a transparent analytical model, the study concludes that a net welfare loss arises from ethanol support policies.

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Tue Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2008