Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies Program on Energy and Sustainable Development Stanford University


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The new economic geography of land use change: Supply chain configurations and land use in the Brazilian Amazon

Journal Article

Rachael Garrett
Eric Lambin - Stanford University
Rosamond L. Naylor - Stanford University

Published by
Land Use Policy, Vol. 34, page(s) 265-275
November 2013

In this paper we present a framework for understanding regional land use processes by incorporating the concept of agglomeration economies into agricultural frontier theory. We show that agricultural firms can obtain positive externalities from locating in close proximity to other agricultural firms, leading to agglomeration economies. Agglomeration economies lead to high levels of competition and diversity within a local agricultural supply chain and influence local prices, information flows, and private enforcement of environmental institutions. We use the theory of agglomeration economies to understand the development of soybean production in two counties along the Santarém-Cuiaba (BR-163) highway in the Brazilian Amazon: Santarém, Pará and Sorriso, Mato Grosso. We conclude that differences in environmental and land tenure institutions influenced the occurrence of agglomeration economies in these two counties, which in turn affected the total factor productivity of soy in each region. In particular, the supply chain became extremely competitive and diverse in Sorriso where few environmental regulations existed, while environmental restrictions reduced the diversification of the supply chain in Santarém. The presence of a soy agglomeration economy in Sorriso spurred innovation, increased productivity, and led to extremely rapid soy expansion in that county, while the monopolistic supply chain in Santarém reduced producers’ access to land and capital and impeded soy expansion.