Profitability of Grazing Versus Mechanical Forage Harvesting on New York Dairy Farms
The profitability of rotational grazing versus mechanical harvestingof forages was estimated using data from 237 nongrazing and57 grazing farms participating in the New York farm businesssummary program in the year 2000. The objective was to performan empirical comparison of the profitability of grazing versusmechanical forage harvesting systems. A regression analysistechnique that controls for treatment selection bias is usedto determine the impact of grazing on the rate of return onassets. This is accomplished by joint maximum likelihood estimationof a probit adoption function and a profit function. The resultsindicate that treatment selection does not have an importantimpact on the estimate of the profitability of grazing. Therewere wide ranges and overlap of profitability among herds usingthe two systems. However, other things equal, farmers utilizinggrazing systems were at least if not more profitable than farmersnot using grazing systems. After controlling for the factorsinfluencing the decision to graze, we found that herd size,rate of milk production per cow, and prices received for milkhave a strong positive impact on profitability. Farmers whoperceive potential lifestyle benefits that might be obtainedby implementing a grazing system likely do not have to pay anincome penalty for adopting a grazing system.
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