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Department of Agricultural Economics Seminar

Food vs. Fuel? Impacts of the North Dakota oil boom on agricultural prices

Date: Time: 3:00 pm–4:30 pm
Filley Hall Room: 210
Additional Info: FYH
Contact: Maddy Griep, (402) 472-1913, maddy.griep@unl.edu
Presented by Aaron Smith, University of California, Davis

Farmers and politicians in North Dakota and nearby states claim dramatic increases in shipments of crude oil by rail in 2013-14 caused service delays and higher costs.  We investigate these claims accounting for other potential sources of rail congestion.  We show that grain price spreads between the market hub and regional elevators  expanded significantly when crude oil shipments increased. However, the incidence of those effects was borne mostly by buyers paying higher prices at the hub, rather than farmers receiving lower prices. The effects differ by the type of grain being transported.  Wheat markets were affected much more than corn and soybeans, most likely because shipping delays were more costly for wheat than corn and soybeans. When rail capacity is scarce, railroads use railcar auctions to price discriminate over the time sensitivity of a shipment.

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This event originated in Agricultural Economics.