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Essays on environmental performance of the agriculture sector

Tshepelayi Kabata, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


This study aims at assessing agricultural performance and responding to the question of to what extent can agriculture increase its production while reducing the environmental impacts? The persistent growth in global agriculture total factor productivity has allowed the sector to meet the needs of an increasing population and substantially contributed to economic growth. This tremendous performance is far beyond the shadow of any doubt. However, a full picture of this achievement reveals that this performance is tainted with a myriad of environmental impacts left out the conventional measurement. More alarming, the magnitude of such impacts questions the sustainability of the revealed growth. In fact, agricultural environmental impacts range from land degradation to water pollution and affect biodiversity, climate and the atmosphere. These are referred to as undesirable or 'bad' outputs and contribute to multi-environmental effects through acidification, eutrophication, ozone depletion, climate change, human health threat and biodiversity reduction. The specificity of this dissertation is three-fold. First, it systematically analyzes the efficiency of greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) of US agriculture at a specific time where the sector is subject to permits requirement under the Clean Air Act since January 2011. The impact of such regulation will certainly vary across farmers and states and depend on their capacity to reduce GHGs at/or below the threshold. An insight of such reduction ability through an efficiency analysis is the first contribution of this work. Second, accounting for GHGs in agricultural productivity across OECD countries provides an environmental performance benchmarking susceptible to credit countries who distinguish themselves with innovative techniques and improvement in efficiency to mitigate GHG emissions. Third, the environmental performance appraisal conducted on US agriculture with respect to water pollution through a stochastic frontier analysis completes and enhances the previous studies using non-parametric approaches. Unlike, these previous works, this study distinguishes two types of deviation from best practice frontier. The first is termed technical inefficiency and the second, random disturbances beyond producers' control and error measurements. Beyond, an environmentally adjusted productivity measure, this study reveals valuable insights on innovation biases, input substitutability or complementarity and complementarity between conventional outputs and water pollution.

Subject Area

Environmental economics|Agricultural economics|Environmental science

Recommended Citation

Kabata, Tshepelayi, "Essays on environmental performance of the agriculture sector" (2013). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3591535.