Long term contracts and farm inflexibility premium in the production of cellulosic ethanol

Abstract

Farmers will supply the raw ingredients for the emerging cellulosic ethanol industry. The long-term relationship between a farmer and a processing firm is expected to be contractual. A processing firm has an incentive to sign long-term contracts to ensure a cost-efficient level of raw ingredient supply. However, farmers generally prefer to operate with either no contract or a short-term contract in order to maintain options for adjustments in future acreage allocations due to changes in relative prices. Of interest in this research is to understand the incentives of farmers and calculating the efficient level of the “inflexibility premium”, which a processing firm must provide to a farmer when a long term contract is signed. A stochastic dynamic programming model is solved and with the help of Microsoft Excel numerically evaluated to illustrate the marginal inflexibility premium is increasing with contract length and the level of price variability, and is decreasing with the size of acreage adjustment costs.Land and Food Systems, Faculty ofGraduat

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