This study describes and compares cow-calf operations and assesses their relative competitiveness, developing performance measures for a sample of U.S. farms. We find that larger operations tend to be significantly more scale and technically efficient than smaller operations. However, we do not find significant differences in net farm returns by size except on medium large operations—showing virtually no net return on farm assets in 2007. While larger operations are clearly more scale and technically efficient and have lower variable costs per cow, off-farm income makes smaller operations competitive as reflected in higher household returns than all size groups--except for very large cow-calf operations.


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