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Bir, Courtney; Peel, Derrell; Holcomb, Rodney; Raper, Kellie; Jones, J.J.
COVID-19 caused meat processing plant shutdowns, increasing public concern regarding the current processing system. We identify numerous issues and limitations to provide the basis for a discussion about the challenges of increasing local and smallscale processing. These include labor, inspection availability, rendering services, capital, waste management/environmental, water, liability and throughput consistency issues. The Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry received $10 million in grants for the Food Supply Stability Plan for Oklahoma meat processors. This work examines the potential impact of an increased number of local meat processors, and the incentives created by Oklahoma to encourage such actions.
Lacy, Katherine; Ward, Ruby; Bordigioni, Malieka; Emm, Staci; Allen, Karin; Whyte, Anne
The onset of COVID-19 resulted in the disruption of many supply chains, mainly caused by impacts to labor, transportation, and declining market demand. The meat industry experienced some of the most significant supply chain impacts due to the current structure of the meat processing industry. Meat processing is a highly consolidated industry with production lines designed and dedicated to specific end consumers. This organizational structure contributed to livestock backlogs, leading to decreased production, consumer meat shortages, and increased consumer prices. As a result, many states are examining their existing meat supply chain to determine the feasibility of establishing local processing plants. This paper will present responses from states to meat supply interruptions, results from a meat processing facility feasibility study, and results from a survey of Nevada and Utah residents conducted during the summer of 2020 which captures consumer preferences for locally raised ground beef.
Sumner, Daniel A.; Hanon, Tristan M.; Somerville, Scott
Western dairy accounts for 46% of U.S. milk production and was hit by the COVID-19 pandemic in complex ways. The pandemic led to large fluctuations in U.S. prices of milk and dairy products. High prices during the summer made up for steep declines in the spring. Western milk production was up over 2019. Farm milk receipts were about the same as in 2019, and about 12% higher than in 2018. However, due to large government payments, 2020 was a relatively high net income year for the Western dairy industry, despite the variability and stresses caused by the pandemic.
Jones, DeDe; Klose, Steven; Keeling, Will; Kaasse, Greg
Texas High Plains producers faced many new uncertainties with the arrival of COVID-19. Significant supply chain disruptions, reductions in consumer demand and decreases in travel negatively affected agricultural operations. In addition, efforts taken to stem contagion lessened the amount of food consumed away from home, and restrictions on movement sharply reduced gasoline usage, and with it demand for grain ethanol. Elevated cases among livestock processing facilities disrupted normal business practices and increased costs. In fact, early in the pandemic the Texas High Plains region was considered a COVID-19 “hot spot” as many area processing plants faced reduced workforces and slower production times due to high numbers of positive cases. This study looks at the farm-level impacts of COVID-19 on six case study model operations created by local Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Risk Management Specialists.
Goodrich, Brittney; Kiesel, Kristin; Bruno, Ellen
California consistently leads the U.S. in the value of agricultural commodities produced, specializing in the production of high-value fruit, vegetable, and nut crops. In this article, we outline the short-term, medium-term, and evolving long-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on California’s produce and tree nut industries. Many of California’s top commodities are labor intensive and highly perishable, e.g., strawberries and lettuce, and consequently these types of commodities experienced some of the worst economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. These initial impacts included higher production costs due to social distancing and other worker protection measures, and the discarding of millions of dollars’ worth of produce which was intended for the food service sector. Other top commodities, such as almonds and processing tomatoes, have highly mechanized operations with relatively non-perishable products. These have been more resilient to the short-run effects of the pandemic on supply chains but have experienced disruptions in international trade. In this article, we highlight the differential effects of the pandemic on California’s high-value crops across the food service and retail supply chains, discuss the mitigating effects of federal, state and industry support, and highlight emerging consumer trends.
Hill, Alexandra E.; Martin, Philip
The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the US economy and labor market, sending the US unemployment rate to almost 15 percent in April 2020. Almost all agricultural industries were deemed critical infrastructure industries, meaning that farm, food processing, transport, and supermarket workers were expected to continue working during lockdowns. We document three major effects of the pandemic on farm labor. First, there is, as of yet, no evidence of significant farm labor shortages due to COVID-19, as had been feared early in the pandemic. Second, the H-2A guest worker program expanded despite high unemployment rates, highlighting the difficulties of moving jobless nonfarm workers into seasonal farm jobs. Third, we postulate that COVID-19 and fears of future pandemics will accelerate three ongoing trends: investments and improvements in labor-saving mechanization, increasing utilization of H-2A guest workers, and rising imports.
Dimke, Christine; Lee, Marissa C.; Bayham, Jude
The COVID-19 pandemic has had broad impacts on American society. As remote work became increasingly common and population density became a liability, many people reconsidered where they live. Using mobile device data, we document the influx of people to rural areas with high scenic and recreational amenities. While an influx of people to these areas led to an early rise in COVID-19 cases and deaths, that effect was short-lived. Since mid-April, these rural areas with high amenities have experienced substantially lower disease burden. We conclude with a discussion of the risks and opportunities posed by this influx to rural communities.
Kiesel, Kristin; Ehmke, Mariah D.; Boys, Kathryn; Katare, Bhagyashree; Penn, Jerrod; Bergtold, Jason
The COVID-19 pandemic sparked the rapid transition of 1.9 million university student from in-person to remote learning during the spring of 2020. Popular press and recent research reports highlighted serious challenges many students faced during this time. Yet, some students had a good or even very good remote learning experience. The purpose of this research is to analyze student perspectives of their remote learning experiences in the early phase of the pandemic to provide valuable insights to instructors, inform instructional design, and discuss policy implications. We surveyed students from colleges of agriculture at six land-grant universities, generating a sample of 2,690 completed responses. Students described their academic experience; learning environments (living situations, internet access, etc.); health, safety and family concerns; and emotional stressors. Opportunities for active student engagement, being able to connect with the instructor, and the inclusion of reflective assignments all contributed to an improved learning experience in a specific course. We found that a positive prior online experience and differences in learning environments explained observed differences in overall learning experiences. Students who felt discriminated against in their university settings reported a more negative experience during these tumultuous times, and experiences varied significantly across universities. Contrary to the experiences of women in the labor market, students identifying as female and students living with children reported better overall experiences during the first month of the pandemic.
Brown, Roger; Hamilton, Lynn; Kiesel, Kristin; Treme, Julianne; Zuo, Na
In March 2020, faculty across the nation were forced to suddenly transform their inperson classes to virtual platforms as a result of COVID-19 university closures. Virtual offerings continued throughout the 2020-21 academic year for most universities. We share our own observations gathered from biweekly meetings of AAEA’s Teaching, Learning, and Communication (TLC) section, where participants discuss best practices for remote instruction. Our paper addresses several themes, including the challenges of teaching in a virtual environment, the positive outcomes of the pivot to remote teaching, and perspectives regarding how university education may be forever altered when we return to the classroom.
O’Brien, Daniel; DePhelps, Colette; Hardesty, Shermain; Sullins, Martha
Boyer, Christopher N.; Yu, T. Edward; Rhinehart, Justin; Ahles, Amelia; Gill, Mackenzie
The impacts of the Tennessee Master Beef Producer (MBP) program on the technical efficiency (TE) of Tennessee beef production was estimated using county-level data in 2007, 2012, and 2017. A two-stage, double bootstrap method was used to measure TE by county and year, and identify any statistical relationship between MBP and TE. TE of beef production changed statewide during this time period. We found a positive relationship in MBP participation and county-level TE of beef production. Results are helpful in targeting locations for future education and provide evidence on the effectiveness of MBP.
Ebert, Kerri; Hoch, Braden; Taylor, Hannah; Schwab, Benjamin
Over the last five years, industrial hemp began to re-enter mainstream agriculture through the 2014 Farm Bill pilot program legalizing the study of growth, cultivation, and marketing of industrial hemp by state departments of agriculture and higher education institutions for research purposes. The 2018 Farm Bill expanded opportunities for industrial hemp production beyond research creating a national commercial industrial hemp production program that allows states, Indian Tribes, and Territories to submit plans for regulating and monitoring their own industrial hemp production programs. This paper looks at Kansas’ experience during its first growing season under the pilot research program.
Tejeda, Hernan A.; Chahine, Mireille; Du, Xiaoxue; Lu, Liang; Westerhold, Ashlee
Adoption of Automated Milking Systems (AMS) by U.S. dairies began in the year 2000, and main regions presently making use of AMS are located in the upper Midwest and Northeast. Idaho ranks among the top three U.S. milk-producing states; however, the number of dairies having adopted AMS is quite low at approximately 10% of all farms. A survey of Idaho dairy farms was conducted to determine their level of responsiveness to AMS technology, and which characteristics may influence or have influenced (in case of having adopted) the adoption process. Survey results focused on non-adopters and served to estimate a Probit model. Summary results showed that a main concern for adopting AMS was the high investment costs involved, and that smaller sized producers indicated higher interest in possible adoption. Estimated model results considering age, education, herd size, type of parlor (parallel, herringbone, rotary, other) and type of farm (free stall, open lot, bedded pack, other), etc. found that dairies having a free stall had significant positive interest in adoption versus dairies with open lots, possibly responding to being easier to install AMS boxes in dairies with free stall. Additional findings are presented. Given the increasing difficulties with supply of labor at dairy farms in Idaho and across the U.S. and the changing lifestyle of dairy producers, it is anticipated that a continuous transition into AMS adoption occurs spearheaded by smaller dairies and more educated, younger farmers.
Ostrom, Marcia; Goldberger, Jessica R.; Smith, Katherine Selting
The number of farmers markets in the United States has increased dramatically in recent decades. A visible exemplar of efforts to capture more value for farmers and communities by relinking food production and consumption, farmers markets offer a window into the values and dynamics of alternative food movements. Research in Washington State found that half of farmer participants, 73% of market managers, and over 70% of shoppers are women. While a highly gendered division of labor is typical of mainstream agri-food systems, few scholars have critically examined these aspects of alternative food chains. We conclude that understanding farmers markets as intersecting, gendered spaces is critical to analyzing their potential contributions to food systems change and enhancing women’s lives and livelihoods.
Smith, Katherine; Ostrom, Marcia
Farm incubator programs have been presented as a solution to reduce barriers to entry for beginning farmers. While various forms of the farm incubator model have been documented in the literature, the significance of community capital building in the development of viable beginning farm businesses through farm incubator programs has not been investigated. Our participatory research with the bilingual, organic Viva Farms Incubator partnership in Western Washington shows how a farm incubator program can facilitate access for beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers of different races and cultures to access financial capital and markets through the development of social capital. In this case, cross-cultural capacity building appears to be both an end result and a necessary condition to connect diverse, new-entry farmers with education, farming infrastructure, and markets.
Dahlquist-Willard, Ruth; Espinoza, Maria L. Ramos; Yang, Michael; Engelskirchen, Gwenael; Feenstra, Gail
Moringa is an emerging crop for California with an upward market trend due to its high nutritional value. It is grown on a small scale by Southeast Asian farmers in California’s San Joaquin Valley. While current sales have been entirely of fresh moringa, dried moringa products could provide additional income as well as the capacity for off-season sales of stored products. To expand economic opportunities for these farms, we researched best practices for creating value-added, dried moringa products for local, direct markets and wholesale markets. We also interviewed potential buyers to determine what marketing opportunities exist for both fresh and dried moringa in California. Our results indicate that dried moringa products can reach niche markets for local products in California if regulatory and certification requirements are addressed. Initially, our focus was working with individual farmers to expand fresh and processed moringa sales. However, aggregators or food businesses may be better suited to purchase fresh moringa from small-scale farms and complete the necessary certifications for processing it, especially if a locally sourced product could provide higher prices.
DePhelps, Colette; Peterson, Steven
During the summer of 2018, a team of community members, led by University of Idaho Extension, performed a Rapid Market Assessment (RMA) of the Moscow Farmers Market, located in Moscow, Idaho. The RMA data was used by University of Idaho faculty to conduct an economic assessment of the Moscow Farmers Market using IMPact Analysis for PLANing (IMPLAN). The purpose of the study was to understand the economic footprint of the market, including estimating the market’s economic contribution to the City of Moscow’s investment in market operations and management and the economic contributions to the local economy in Latah County, Idaho. It is clear from this analysis that the Moscow Farmers Market is a significant asset to the City of Moscow and has significant positive direct and indirect contributions to the local economy. With the rise of COVID-19, it is important that the success of the Moscow Farmers Market be monitored, and that support be provided to market vendors and downtown shops to ensure their rebound post-pandemic.
Macon, Dan; Ingram, Roger; Fake, Cindy
Economic viability is challenging for most small-scale agricultural producers, perhaps especially in the Sierra Nevada Foothills. Profitability, a key determination of long-term sustainability, is particularly difficult to achieve. Since 2008, we have been conducting a combination of structured business planning educational programs while supporting the creation of producer-to-producer networks to support further inquiry into production and business management topics, provide feedback on key decisions, and bring about accountability. Past participant surveys have demonstrated that these programs improve the likelihood of profitability compared with nonparticipant producers. We specifically describe two case studies, the Foothill Grazing Geeks and the Mandarin Growers Collaborative.
Mendoza, Carmen T.; Dahlquist-Willard, Ruth M.
Southeast Asian farmers in Fresno County are a socially disadvantaged group, which grows more than 14,000 tons of specialty crops per year. They typically sell produce at farm stands, Asian grocery stores and farmers markets throughout California. While previously they were unable to participate in farm-to-school programs in local school districts, technical assistance from a non-profit and a university extension program succeeded in a pilot program for institutional procurement at the Fresno Unified School District. Three farmers became vendors after barriers were addressed. We highlight the process and the outcomes of collaboration and advocacy.
Hill, Rebecca; Mooney, Daniel; Thilmany, Dawn
Establishing state hemp programs in the U.S. West creates an increased need for economic professionals to understand key supply chain issues for this new alternative crop. The Colorado Hemp Advancement Management Plan (CHAMP) is a comprehensive blueprint for the state’s fledgling hemp industry. Making the plan entailed an examination of the complete supply chain, with input gathered from over 150 stakeholders organized into 8 thematic supply chain groups. This article reflects on the CHAMP initiative by describing the state’s hemp sector and summarizing key issues related to research and development, cultivation, testing, processing, transportation, manufacturing, and banking and insurance segments of the supply chain. These issues will likely pertain to other western hemp programs beyond Colorado as they also make headway into this sector.
Nadreau, Timothy P.; Fortenbery, T. Randall
The Odessa Sub-area lies in the second, and uncompleted, region of Washington’s Columbia Basin Water Project. Water used for irrigation in the region is currently pumped from as deep as 700 feet, and water access is steadily declining. We measure the economic losses to the potato producing region that would result from further reducing access to water for crop irrigation in the Columbia Basin. Estimated costs are adjusted for the gains in wheat production that would result as affected growers transition their land into the next best non-irrigated crop alternative in the region. Then, we move beyond the standard contribution analysis by looking not only at the net losses in production, but potential forward linked losses from potato processing plant closures.
Shartaj, Mostafa; Suter, Jordan F.
Outdoor recreation demand has increased substantially in the Western United States in the last decade. We demonstrate how National Forest campground utilization varies in response to changes in population, per capita income, and unemployment in counties local to that campground. Our findings suggest that a 1 percent increase in per capita income reduces utilization by 0.08 to 0.09 percentage points. Moreover, an increase of 1 percentage point in the unemployment rate increases utilization by 0.3 to 0.6 percentage points. Overall, the results suggest that campground utilization is higher in areas that have seen declines in macroeconomic conditions.