Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to present empirical evidence of risk balancing behavior by European farmers. More specifically, the authors investigate strategic adjustments in the level of financial risk (FR) in response to changes in the level of business risk (BR).
Design/methodology/approach – The authors conducted a correlation relationship analysis and run several linear fixed effects regression models using the European Union (EU)-15 FADN panel data set for the period 1995-2008.
Findings – Overall, the paper finds EU evidence of risk balancing. The correlation relationship analysis suggests that just over half of the farm observations are risk balancers whereas the other (smaller) half are not. The coefficient in our fixed effects regression suggests that a 1 percent increase in BR reduces FR by 0.043 percent and has a standard error so low that the existence of non-risk balancers is doubtful. The results reject evidence of strong-form risk balancing – inverse trade-offs between FR and BR keeping total risk (TR) constant – but cannot reject weak-form risk balancing – inverse trade-offs between FR and BR with some observed changes in TR. Furthermore, the extent of risk balancing behavior is found to differ between different European countries and across farm typologies.
Practical implications – This study provides European policy makers a first insight into risk balancing behavior of EU farmers. When risk balancing occurs, BR-reducing agricultural policies induce strategic upwards leverage adjustments that unintentionally reestablish or even increase total farm-level risk.
Originality/value – Making use of the large and unique FADN database, to the best of the authors knowledge, this study is the first that provides European (EU-15) evidence on risk balancing behavior, is conducted at an unprecedented large scale, and presents the first risk balancing evidence across
countries and farming systems.