Regional differences in agricultural profitability, government payments, and farmland values

Ashok K. Mishra (Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness, Louisiana State University, AgCenter, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA)
Charles B. Moss (Department of Food and Resource Economics, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, USA)
Kenneth W. Erickson (Department of Agriculture, Resource and Rural Economics Division, Economic Research Service, Washington, District of Columbia, USA)

Agricultural Finance Review

ISSN: 0002-1466

Publication date: 8 May 2009



The purpose of this paper is to use the DuPont expansion to examine those factors underlying differences in (rates of) return on different crop portfolios over space (ten regions) and time (1960‐2004). The paper also estimates the impact of government payments on farmland values through its impact on farm profitability.


Businesses use the DuPont model to analyze the profitability of a business. This model includes three components: net profit margin, asset turnover, and financial leverage (or assets to equity). It is based on the relationships among these three components and is expressed as a product of ratios. For the purposes of the current study, accrued capital gains from (total) returns are excluded to focus on cash returns “cash flow”. Returns from current income are a “cash flow” available in the short run to pay financial obligations. Furthermore, returns from capital gains are not liquid; they are gains in wealth fully captured as capital gains/losses only in the longer term. Following the DuPont approach, the effect of government payments on farm asset values is equal to the sum of the effect of government payments on profit margins plus the effect of government payments on the asset turnover ratio.


The analysis focuses on agricultural profitability in the ten Economic Research Service (ERS) regions. By comparing the components of the DuPont expansion, profitability differences over time are analyzed. The results indicate that one cause of low profitability in the Corn Belt and Mountain regions is a perpetually low profit margin while the evidence for other regions supports lower asset efficiency. Results show that government payments impact the profit margin and affect value of farm assets in particular farmland values but not asset turnover ratio.


The use of DuPont expansion factor in agriculture is original and really helps us to understand the factors driving profitability in agriculture. Another innovation (originality) in this paper is the theoretical model that connects the DuPont expansion factor, government payments and its impact on farmland values.



Mishra, A., Moss, C. and Erickson, K. (2009), "Regional differences in agricultural profitability, government payments, and farmland values", Agricultural Finance Review, Vol. 69 No. 1, pp. 49-66.

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