A general model for estimating the economic and production effects of specific pesticide withdrawals: a cotton example
Casey, Jr, JE
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In twenty-five years, pesticides have become a major input to commercial agriculture. Even at present levels of use, studies indicate that the returns in agriculture from use of an additional dollar of pesticides are two to three dollars. However, the emphasis on environmental quality has caused considerable pressure to discontinue use of some pesticides, which in turn, raises important questions regarding the impact of withdrawing specific pesticides from commercial use in agriculture. This report discusses a model developed to estimate regional and national effects of specified pesticide withdrawals from cotton production. Included is an evaluation of regional shifts in cropping patterns and associated changes in cotton output, price and farmer net returns. Data requirements for the model developed in this study included estimates of yield and production cost change due to pesticide withdrawals. Since data were not available, a relatively new technique called the Delphi Method was used to generate this information. The Delphi method uses experts in a subject matter field and a multi-round survey. These data were used in a general simulation model developed to evaluate regional and aggregate effects of specific pesticide withdrawals. The model was facilitated by a computer program that included five options for estimating the effect of specified pesticide withdrawals.with cotton acreages held constant in each region, pesticide cancellations caused output to decline. But the expected price increase due to reduced output typically resulted in an increase in aggregate or US net returns to cotton and the alternative crop to cotton. There were, however, some regions that would experience a decline in net returns with particular pesticide withdrawals. Using Option II, which permitted cotton acres to shift among regions, output remained near 9 to 10 million bales while expected net returns to cotton and the alternative crop to cotton icreased in every region (compared to the present situation). However, cotton production was totally deleted in some regions, primarily the Eastern United States and Rio Grande Valley of Texas. With cropping pattern adjustments, pesticide withdrawals in most cases would not have a large effect on cotton acres or output for the US in total. However, for every pesticide withdrawal using each of the options, the regional effect on acres, output and net returns vary widely. The Carolines, Florida, Georgia, and South Texas are usually found not to have a comparative advantage for cotton, thus, estimated cropping shifts indicate cotton would adjust out of these areas. The other areas of Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, and New Mexico usually retain or gain cotton acres. Arizona and California fluctuated most in cotton acres and output. These results suggest the effect of pesticide withdrawals may not be large from a national viewpoint but that regional impacts may be of utmost importance. The effect of pesticide withdrawals on rural communities and economies as well as to price paid by consumers need to be carefully compared to the estimated advantages of pesticide withdrawals.