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Research Articles

Teaching and Educational Methods

Teaching Competition Topics: Applications of Seller Market Power in Agricultural Industries

Yuliya V. Bolotova

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Volume 1, 2019, Posted online: September 30, 2019
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Abstract: The article presents a simple theoretical framework that can be used to explain conduct and performance of agricultural industries and seller market power in these industries. The framework components include a linear inverse demand function, a constant marginal cost function, and a set of measures of costs, revenue, and profit. The theoretical framework is consistent with agricultural supply and price cycle, and the decision-making process of agricultural producers. The theoretical framework is used to develop applications for the U.S. peanut and potato industries represented by two problem sets provided in the teaching note, which also includes four sets of assessment questions. The article discusses implementation and practical applications of the proposed teaching activity. The target audience includes students taking undergraduate courses in agricultural economics and agribusiness programs as well as extension and outreach audiences.

Keywords: Agricultural marketing, competition, peanut industry, potato industry, seller market power

Case Studies

Teaching and Education Commentaries

Case Study Special Issue

Case-Study Research Topics in Agribusiness Economics and Management

Michael Boland

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Volume 1, 2019, Posted online: September 18, 2019

Abstract: Within agricultural and applied economics, the development of and methodology for case-study research receives wide discussion. Despite this, there exists no published case-study research studies based in classic case-study methodology. Case-study research is an important methodological tool in social sciences, but generally not taught in agricultural and applied economics graduate programs. The objective is to discuss two different researchable topics requiring extensive data collection that are suitable for dissertations and research. The first topic is to help inform the theoretical contributions in geographic indications by collecting supply data for food products to better understand the relative shape of supply curves and their relative elasticities of supply for such products. The second topic is to understand the depth of agricultural global supply chains in a topical area such as sustainability. Both topics would provide cross-sectional and time-series dimensions in a detailed experimental design with individual firms being the subject of each data. There are opportunities for graduate degree programs to focus on case-study research, which would be suitable for dissertations. This is especially true for graduate students in agribusiness economics and management who have a desire to teach as a career.

Keywords: Agribusiness, agriculture, case-study research, economics, food, industrial organization, management

Government Cheese: A Case Study of Price Supports

Katherine Lacy, Todd Sørensen, Eric Gibbons

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Volume 1, 2019, Posted online: November 19, 2019
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Abstract: In this paper, we present a case study that uses a Planet Money podcast to introduce microeconomics students to several important economic concepts. The podcast, which is about a policy intervention in the dairy industry, reveals the unintended consequences of government price supports under the Food and Agriculture Act of 1977, which increased dairy price supports through government purchases of manufactured milk products. By 1981, the government was struggling to reduce its stockpile of 560 million pounds of cheddar cheese stored in caves across the Midwest. This case study examines the history of dairy price supports and the government’s resulting acquisition of millions of pounds of cheese, butter, and nonfat dry milk. Available on request are detailed teaching notes with learning objectives and background materials, questions (and answers) for student evaluation, and a table displaying meta-data for each question, such as learning objective, difficulty level, and Bloom’s Taxonomy level.

Keywords: Agricultural Policy, Government Cheese, Government Policy, Market Inefficiencies, Price Floor, Price Support

The Ethical Choice: Confronting Ethical Dilemmas with Industry Participants in a Curriculum

Cheryl Wachenheim

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Volume 1, 2019, Posted online: November 19, 2019
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Abstract: This hypothetical teaching case presents learners with two ethical dilemmas faced in an agricultural sales course. The primary dilemma consists of a salesman suggesting to a student they fabricate a ride-along experience they were to complete together. A second dilemma addresses a sales representative condoning the use of “little white lies” to customers and others as part of the sales process. The case study is designed to facilitate consideration of ethical dilemmas through context-specific decision making. It allows students the opportunity to investigate choices by considering a range of factors not limited to standards of conduct and personal values. Questions help guide use of the case, and an instructor’s note is available.

Keywords: Agricultural sales, ethics