Livestock production has increased in Inner Mongolia, China, despite widespread documentation of grassland degradation. To begin investigating the relationship that produces these trends, we studied farm-level decisions of herder households. We estimated economic enterprise budgets for 15 counties in Inner Mongolia across five ecosystems in 2009 and 2014 by using household survey data. Six counties decreased livestock stocking rates and had improved profit over time. The remaining counties increased their stocking rates over the period studied and profit decreased for all but one county. Livestock operators who reported negative profit over the 5 years were located across ecosystem types and reported a large number of weather shocks that affected grassland availability. Removing the opportunity cost of land and labour from the economic enterprise budgets resulted in a positive profit for all counties, which may explain why herders continue to increase stocking rates with decreased grassland availability over time.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (71403272, 71774162), Basic Scientific Research Expenses Supporting Programs for National Public Scientific Research Institute (1610332018021, y2016zk23), the Natural Science Foundation of Inner Mongolia (2014BS0709), NSF grant no DEB-1313693, and Fonds de recherché du Québec-Société et culture 2015-NP-182013.
- semi-arid area