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Catching Up or Falling Behind in European Agriculture: The Case of Milk Production

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Journal of Agricultural Economics

Published online on


The paper explores and analyses the catching up and falling behind processes in the European dairy sector over the period 2004–2011, using a stochastic metafrontier multiple output distance function for 24 EU Member States. The metafrontier estimates reveal considerable productivity differences in milk production across the EU at the regional (NUTS‐2) level. Milk yield per cow is the highest in the old Member States, especially in those regions located in the northwest of the EU, while the lowest productivity is observed in Eastern Europe. The same structure was found for both the TFP (Total Factor Productivity) levels and TFP growth. Moreover, the results for technical change suggest that farm sizes are not optimal in many regions in Central and Eastern Europe from a dynamic perspective. The comparative analysis suggests that in the new compared to the old Member States, fewer farms could benefit from the movement of the frontier. Moreover, there are no signs that poorly performing farms are catching up with the best performing farms in the EU regions/countries.