Article examining farm productivity receives lofty agricultural economics journal honor

A paper examining farm productivity and innovation co-written by a faculty member in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics at the University of Wyoming has received honors from the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.

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Matt Andersen

Associate professor Matt Andersen in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and collaborators will receive the 2019 Outstanding American Journal of Agricultural Economics Article Honorable Mention award for “A Century of U.S. Farm Productivity Growth: A Surge Then a Slowdown.”

They will receive the award Monday, June 10, at the association’s annual meeting in Atlanta. The article was published in the journal’s July 2018 edition. The article is at

“The AJAE is our top disciplinary journal, and receiving an honorable mention for the outstanding article award is a very noteworthy achievement,” said Ben Rashford, associate professor and head of the department.

Other authors are Julian Alston, distinguished professor, and professor Aaron Smith, both in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of California, Davis, and Philip Pardey, a professor in the Department of Applied Economics and director of the International Science and Technology Practice and Policy, both at the University of Minnesota.

They examined changes in U.S. agricultural productivity patterns and found “sizable and significant slowdowns in the rate of productivity in recent decades,” they wrote. They also surmised the high rates of productivity in the latter part of the century were aberrations compared to the long-term trend.

They suggest waves of technological progress through the mid-century contributed to the surge of faster-than-normal productivity growth through the third quarter of the century and a slowdown toward the end of the 20th century extending into the present.

They also suggest a reduction in the growth of total spending on agricultural research and development was a precursor to the post-1990 sluggish agricultural productivity. They added that the extent to which the small R&D spending had on the slowdown is speculative.

The authors also caution weak U.S. agricultural productivity growth could have serious implications. The U.S. could see a widening competitiveness gap in the world if other counties do not have comparable slowdowns in productivity.

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