• Measuring total factor productivity on Irish dairy farms: a Fisher index approach using farm-level data

      McCormack, Michele; Thorne, Fiona; Hanrahan, Kevin (Compuscript Ltd.Teagasc, 2020-11-21)
      This paper presents a Fisher index measure of the total factor productivity (TFP) performance of Irish dairy farms over the period 2006–2016 using the Teagasc National Farm Survey (NFS) data. The removal of milk quotas in 2015 has led to an increase of over 30% in dairy cow numbers since 2010, and although suckler cow numbers have dropped slightly, the total number of cows in Ireland reached an all-time high of 2.5 million head in 2016. This large increase adds to the environmental pressures attributed to agricultural output and puts the focus firmly on how efficiently the additional agricultural output associated with higher cow numbers is produced. The primary purpose of this paper is to identify a standardised measure of the TFP performance of Irish dairy farms that can be routinely updated using Teagasc NFS data. We found that relative to 2010 the TFP of Irish dairy farms has increased by almost 18%; however, in one production year 2015, when milk quota was removed, the TFP measure increased by 7% and TFP continued to grow by 2.5% in the production year 2016. It would seem therefore that the removal of the European dairy quota system has resulted in a windfall gain for Irish dairy farmers but that productivity gains are continuing. Future data will be required to investigate the longer-term TFP performance of Irish dairy farms in the post-milk quota era.
    • Policy Incentives as Behavioural Drivers of Beef Enterprises in Ireland: Where are the Kinks?

      McCormack, Michele; O' Donoghue, Cathal (2014 International Congress, August 26-29, 2014, Ljubljana, Slovenia 182733, European Association of Agricultural Economists., 2014)
      The current structure of agricultural production is still influenced by historical coupled payments, even though it has been eight years since decoupled payments were introduced. Much of the expansion in the Irish cattle herd that occurred during the era of the MacSharry reforms is still visible. In this paper we consider the incentives associated with the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) over time in relation to production. Our primary focus is on subsidies that were available to the beef sector, and we investigate the behavioural pressures associated with these incentives. We have developed a Hypothetical microsimulation model using a typical farm, based on plausible values taken from the Teagasc National Farm Survey (NFS) 1995. We are investigating if subsidies available to the beef sector in Ireland through the CAP since 1984 resulted in non-linearity in the Direct Payment Schedule faced by cattle farmers, and if so where were these kinks and what were the behavioural pressures associated with these incentives? Identifying non-linearity in the Direct Payment Schedule indicates where incentives occurred. Large kinks are associated with large incentives at that point. We calculated a total payment for each subsidy from 1984 to 2014, and constructed a Direct Payment Schedule that varies by stocking rate. We find that subsidies, and in particular the CAP reform payments of the MacSharry era introduced large discontinuities or kink points in the Direct Payment Schedule of beef farmers, indicating that there were large incentives for farmers to produce at or just before these points.
    • Using a Technology Acceptance Model to investigate what factors influence farmer adoption of a nutrient management plan

      McCormack, Michele; Buckley, Cathal; Kelly, E. (Teagasc, 2021-11-17)
      The agricultural sector will play a key role in reaching the goals set out in the Water Framework Directive 2000/60/EC, and so understanding farmer behaviour in relation to farm management best practice is important. In this paper, we investigate if the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) can predict farmer adoption of an online nutrient management plan (NMP). A NMP has the potential to reduce the risk of nutrient transfer from agricultural land, without negatively affecting farm-level profitability. The TAM identifies two psychological constructs, perceived usefulness (PU) and perceived ease of use (PEOU), which are believed to be key factors in technology adoption. The data were collected through a survey from 358 farms by a team of professional data recorders in 2015. Results indicate that PU and PEOU of a NMP are positively and significantly related to a farmer’s intention to adopt and use the technology in the future. However, PU, which captures the perceived benefits in terms of usefulness, is the main driver of technology adoption. Results show that those farmers who adopt and use the technology are more likely to have larger farms and are full-time farmers. They use agricultural extension services and the farm is also more likely to be the main contributor to overall household income. The research recommends that the usefulness of a NMP, in terms of increased profitability, improving nutrient management practices, labour and time-saving advantages, should be highlighted and clearly communicated to farmers.