This chapter explores the effect of climate on the value of US agricultural land using a Ricardian model. The research extends previous analyses by including both interseasonal and diurnal climate variation in addition to average temperature and precipitation variables. With these climate variation variables included, small increases in average temperature are predicted to be beneficial. Increases in interannual climate variation are predicted to be generally harmful to US agriculture but decreases in diurnal variation will be beneficial.
For centuries analysts have been interested in the impact of weather on crops in order to predict what crops to grow, when to plant and harvest, and what agricultural prices will be each year. With the growing likelihood that accumulating greenhouse gases will change the climate (IPCC, 1996), there has been growing interest in also measuring the impact of climate change on agriculture. Two distinct ways to measure the impacts of climate on agriculture have emerged in the literature: an agronomic approach and a Ricardian rent approach. The agronomic approach (Chapter 2; Adams et al., 1989, 1990, 1995; Crosson and Katz, 1991; Rosenzweig and Parry, 1994) predicts changes in yield from crop simulation models such as CERES and SOYGRO and then enters these changes in mathematical models of agriculture production and consumption. The Ricardian approach (Johnson and Haigh, 1970; Mendelsohn et al., 1994, 1996) uses an empirical cross-sectional approach and estimates the relationship between land prices and climatic, economic, and soil variables.