About a month ago, I posted on some new research suggesting decline rates of productivity growth in agriculture. Last week at a conference in Amsterdam, I ran into Wally Huffman from Iowa State University, and knowing he's done work in this area, I asked him if he had any thoughts on the issue. As it turns out, along with Yu Jin he has a new paper forthcoming in the journal Agricultural Economics on agricultural productivity and the impacts of state and federal spending on agricultural research and extension.
Jin and Huffman also find evidence of a slowdown in productivity growth, writing:
They also find large returns to spending on agricultural research, and even larger returns to spending on extension. They find the following:
The paper includes a couple really interesting graphs on research spending and extension employment over time. First, they show that for four major agricultural states, real spending on agricultural research peaked in the mid 1990s.
And, while extension staff has declined in some states, it hasn't in others.