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Eco-efficiency Among Dairy Farmers: The Importance of Socio-economic Characteristics and Farmer Attitudes

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Abstract

The aim of this paper is to assess the eco-efficiency of dairy farms in Spain. To do so, we use data from a survey carried out in 2010 for the specific purpose of analysing the environmental performance of 50 dairy farms in the Spanish region of Asturias. The survey contains information on nutrients balances and greenhouse gas emissions which is used to calculate environmental pressure indicators. Eco-efficiency is measured using data envelopment analysis. We analyse the influence of farmers’ socio-economic characteristics and attitudes in explaining these eco-efficiency scores using truncated regression and bootstrapping procedures. On average, the dairy farms are found to be highly eco-inefficient. Among our results, farmers that are younger, that plan to continue in operation in the foreseeable future and that participate more in training schemes are found to be more eco-efficient. Self-reported positive environmental habits are also reflected in actual eco-efficient performance. We quantify these potential gains in eco-efficiency through a simulation analysis based on the estimated model’s coefficients.

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Notes

  1. Picazo-Tadeo et al. (2011), while lacking the data to do so themselves, stressed the importance of taking into account attitudinal variables in the analysis as, in their words, “other farmer features, including psychological aspects such as environmental concerns, should be considered in the future to explain eco-efficiency.”

  2. Frontier-based studies overwhelmingly use DEA models to measure environmental efficiency (see Lansink and Wall (2014) for a recent review of frontier modelling of environmental efficiency). One of the few exceptions to this is the stochastic frontier analysis (SFA) study of environmental efficiency by Reinhard et al. (1999). We are unaware of any eco-efficiency studies to date that have not used DEA. However, this is not to say that SFA could not be used, but given that SFA models are estimated by maximum likelihood methods and are highly non-linear, a sizeable data set is generally needed if coefficients are to be accurately estimated. We tried to estimate a stochastic frontier model with efficiency determinants for our data set but most of the estimated coefficients were not statistically significant at conventional levels.

  3. The transformed eco-efficiency measure ranges from 1 to infinity.

  4. For instance, one of the requirements for obtaining a subsidy for young farmers in Asturias is to attend a training course of 155 h. https://sede.asturias.es/portal/site/Asturias/menuitem.46a76b28f520ecaaf18e90dbbb30a0a0/?vgnextoid=dd8cfe3f6fd4f010VgnVCM100000b0030a0aRCRD.

  5. http://www.ceja.eu/young-farmers-eu/.

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Acknowledgments

The authors thank Samuele Centorrino, Luis Orea, José Antonio Pérez, David Roibás and session attendees at the XIII European Workshop on Efficiency and Productivity Analysis held in Helsinki in 2013 for valuable comments. Associate Editor Phoebe Koundouri provided many helpful suggestions which greatly improved the paper. Financial support given by Cajastur (Cajastur Mobility Grant) and the Spanish Ministry of Innovation and Competitivness through research project ECO2010-17240 is gratefully acknowledged.

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Correspondence to María Pérez Urdiales.

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Pérez Urdiales, M., Lansink, A.O. & Wall, A. Eco-efficiency Among Dairy Farmers: The Importance of Socio-economic Characteristics and Farmer Attitudes. Environ Resource Econ 64, 559–574 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10640-015-9885-1

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