Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Agricultural Economics

Document Type



Farm firm decision making processes have long been of concern to agricultural economists. The concept of maximizing utility rather than profit is an important concept in multidimensional goal research. The prevalence of low or negative net returns in Louisiana beef and dairy production leads to the hypothesis that goals other than profit maximization compete strongly in producers' decisions. The objective of this study is to determine the hierarchy of goals that motivate beef and dairy producers and evaluate them in a multi-dimensional framework. Seven goals were evaluated in producer decision making: Maintain and Conserve Land, Maximize Profit, Increase Farm Size, Avoid Years of Loss / Low Profit, Increase Net Worth, Have Time for Other Activities, and Have Family Involved in Agriculture. Each goal's weight is its importance in the measurement of the farmer's utility. Weights were elicited using the fuzzy pair-wise comparison and simple rank ordering procedures. Using the fuzzy pair-wise comparison method, the goal weight ranged between 0 and 1 and the errors for each of the goal equations were contemporaneously correlated. Thus, logistic seemingly unrelated regression was appropriate to use in regressing the weights of goals on explanatory variables such as production characteristics, risk preference, social capital, environmental attitudes and others. Goal hierarchies of producers were elicited via mail survey. Of 13,100 Louisiana beef producers, 1,472 were surveyed. For producers with less than 100 animals, Maintain and Conserve Land and Increase Farm Size were the most and least important goals, respectively. Producers with more than 100 animals weighted Avoid Years of Loss / Low Profit as the most important goal and Increase Farm Size as the least important goal. The entire population of dairy producers (428) was surveyed. Avoid Years of Loss / Low Profit was slightly more important than Maximize Profit. Increase Farm Size was the least important goal. Overall, dairy producers placed more emphasis on profit related goals such as Maximize Profit, Avoid Years of Loss / Low Profit, and Increase Net Worth. The most important goal of beef producers was Maintain and Conserve Land.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Jeffrey M. Gillespie