The global demand for agricultural commodities may more than double in the second half of the twenty-first century. It has been suggested that rapidly growing world needs in food and agriculture can be met by expanding the acreage or cultivation of existing farmland. Because available land for farming is limited, about 90% of future production growth is expected to result from yield growth, with only 10% realized at the cost of acreage expansion.
In this chapter, we analyze the multitude of social benefits of modern agriculture. We also expand the traditional analysis of the return to research methodology by explicitly including environmental and other benefits of crop yield growth.
A key result of our analysis is that the environmental benefits of productivity growth far exceed the direct economic benefits to consumers and producers from an expansion of production. Hence, restricting analysis solely to price and quantity effects seriously underestimates the social benefits of modern agriculture.
The environmental benefits of yield growth in modern agriculture far exceed the traditional measure of social welfare.
von Witzke, H. and Noleppa, S. (2016), "The High Value to Society of Modern Agriculture: Global Food Security, Climate Protection, and Preservation of the Environment – Evidence from the European Union", Food Security in a Food Abundant World (Frontiers of Economics and Globalization, Vol. 16), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 55-65. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1574-871520150000016016
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