The effects of direct payments on technical efficiency of Irish beef farms: a stochastic frontier analysis
Journal of Agricultural Economics
The 2003 Mid-Term Review of the CAP sought to refocus the EU's farm support policy to foster a more competitive and market-orientated agricultural sector. The foundation of this reform comprised the introduction of decoupled payments to farmers, replacing the EU's previous system of supports that were directly linked to production of designated crops and livestock. This paper explores the effect of coupled payments and their subsequent replacement by decoupled support, on the technical efficiency of specialist beef farms in Ireland. Given the high reliance of beef farmers in Ireland on CAP payments, the decoupling of payments has been especially important for the sector. A stochastic production frontier is estimated using a panel dataset comprising detailed accountancy data for Irish beef farms between the years 2000 and 2013. Our results indicate that technical efficiency in the beef farming sector has been consistently poor, with an average efficiency score of only 0.53 during the period analysed. However, we found that direct income received in the form of coupled payments had a positive impact on farm efficiency, and that this positive effect was maintained after their replacement with decoupled income support.