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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Land Manager's Gem: a Flexible Framework for Comparative Analyses

Authors
item Atwood, S - UTAH STATE UNIVERSITY
item Mccoy, N - UTAH STATE UNIVERSITY
item Snyder, D - UTAH STATE UNIVERSITY
item Banner, R - UTAH STATE UNIVERSITY
item Pfister, James
item Provenza, F - UTAH STATE UNIVERSITY

Submitted to: Utah Agricultural Experiment Station
Publication Type: Experiment Station
Publication Acceptance Date: August 1, 2005
Publication Date: December 1, 2005
Citation: Atwood, S.B., Mccoy, N., Snyder, D., Banner, R.E., Pfister, J.A., Provenza, F.D. 2005. Land manager's gem: a flexible framework for comparative analyses. Utah Agricultural Experiment Station.

Interpretive Summary: Land and livestock managers need a simple way to evaluate financial and non-financial implications of alternative land management practices. Because the basic nature of production economics does not vary substantially between ranches or other enterprises, we developed the General Economic Model (GEM); a Microsoft Excel-based customizable spreadsheet that enables livestock producers and other users to quickly evaluate the tradeoffs resulting from decision-making. Users create a baseline condition from which they may compare the impact of alternative management practices, with output including net profit, benefit-cost analysis, or cost per unit of effectiveness. The framework’s generality allows it to be applied to any production enterprise, but it was specifically designed to address land management issues. The GEM combines estimates of the costs and benefits of production and transforms these assumptions into a modified 'income statement’ that includes both cash and non-cash components. An evaluation section presents calculated outcomes for criteria of interest to the decision-maker, and alternative strategies are compared simultaneously. Variables can be easily altered, and outcomes are quickly re-calculated by the spreadsheet. To demonstrate the broad utility of the model, we provide an example of a cow-calf producer confronted with a poisonous plant problem who is considering two alternative management strategies.

Technical Abstract: Land managers need a simple way to evaluate financial and non-financial implications of alternative land management practices. Since the fundamental nature of production economics does not vary substantially between enterprises, we developed the General Economic Model (GEM); a Microsoft Excel-based customizable spreadsheet that enables users to quickly evaluate the tradeoffs resulting from decisions-making. Users create a baseline condition to which they may compare the impact of alternative management practices across several measures, including net profit, benefit-cost analysis, or cost per unit of effectiveness. The framework’s generality allows it to be applied to any production enterprise, but it was specifically designed to address land management issues. The GEM combines estimates of the costs and benefits of production and transforms these assumptions into a modified income statement’ that includes both cash and non-cash components. An evaluation section presents calculated outcomes for criteria of interest to the decision-maker, and alternative strategies are compared simultaneously. Variables can be easily altered, and outcomes are quickly re-calculated by the spreadsheet. To demonstrate the broad utility of the model, we provide an example of a cow-calf producer confronted with a poisonous plant problem who is considering two alternative management strategies.

Last Modified: 10/1/2014
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