Sacramento-area farmers and ranchers who sell their products directly to consumers generate twice as much regional economic impact per dollar of output as do area food producers who don't engage in direct marketing, reports a UC Davis agricultural economist and a team of UC Cooperative Extension researchers.
The newly released study of the four Sacramento region counties of El Dorado, Placer, Sacramento and Yolo found that direct-marketing food producers had a regional output multiplier of 1.86 compared to just 1.42 for producers not involved in direct marketing.
Direct-marketing channels include farmers markets, roadside farm stands and community-supported agriculture programs that provide consumers with regular deliveries of farm products.
“The direct marketers make up a relatively small part of the Sacramento region's agricultural sector, but this study demonstrates that these food producers generate both economic and qualitative benefits for the region,” said study leader Shermain Hardesty, a UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the UC Davis Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics.
“It's important that the economic contributions of direct-marketing farmers and ranchers be taken into consideration so that regional policies can be enhanced to support and nurture the growth of these food producers,” Hardesty said.
The regional economic impacts identified in the study are threefold: revenue received directly by the agricultural producer; a ripple effect when the food producer purchases inputs in the region; and a secondary ripple when the producer and the suppliers of goods and services to the producer, in turn, spend more money in the region on household goods and services.
The report, along with separate economic impact reports specifically for El Dorado, Placer and Yolo counties, is available online.
Sacramento region direct marketers
In the four-county Sacramento region, direct-marketing food producers are a relatively small segment of the total agricultural sector, accounting for 19 percent of the region's farms and only 4 percent of its agricultural production.
The direct-marketing farm operations tend to be smaller and more labor-intensive, and source more of their inputs locally than do nondirect-marketing operations in the area.
The new study was based on economic information gathered from 88 local farmers and ranchers, including 31 vegetable farmers, 48 orchard or vineyard growers and nine livestock producers, each of whom generated at least $1,000 in annual sales from marketing directly to consumers.
After the data were collected, they were incorporated into an economic modeling program to estimate the economic impacts of producers engaged in direct marketing.
Other findings from the report include:
• Sacramento region direct-market producers averaged just $164,631 in one year of sales compared to $568,105 for those not engaged in direct marketing.
• Seventy-three percent of the direct marketers also sold through wholesale channels.
• Overall, the direct-market producers generated 44 percent of their total revenues through direct-marketing channels, 55 percent through wholesale channels and 1 percent through commodity markets.
• For every $1 million of output, the direct-market producers generated a total of 31.8 jobs in the Sacramento region while the nondirect-market producers generated only 10.5 jobs.
• Direct marketers purchased 89 percent of their inputs within the region while the nondirect-market producers purchased 45 percent of their inputs in the region. This local sourcing of inputs was the primary factor responsible for the direct-market producers having a greater economic impact on the region than nondirect-market producers.
Collaborators and funding
Hardesty collaborated on the study with Libby Christensen, Erin McGuire and Gail Feenstra, all of UC Davis; and Chuck Ingels, Jim Muck, Julia Boorinakis-Harper, Cindy Fake and Scott Oneto, all with the UC Cooperative Extension.
Funding for the study was provided by the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources Competitive Grants Program.
UC Agriculture and Natural Resources. He volunteered in many other countries and taught courses at Fresno State.
Despite these achievements, Wright said he counts the relationships he developed with local farmers, pest control advisers, consultants, private industry, university researchers, students, UC and county staff as his greatest career accomplishments.
“When I think over my career, I think of the people who I was privileged to work with more than the projects,” Wright said.
A native of San Diego, Wright earned a bachelor's degree in plant science at Fresno State in 1972. Upon graduation, he and his wife joined the Peace Corps, spending three years working with Guatemalan native farmers.
“I did research and extension work on corn, wheat and potatoes,” Wright said. “That's what motivated me to come back to California and do graduate work at Fresno State. I wanted to work in extension.”
He praised the opportunities afforded to him during his college days at Fresno State.
“They had all kinds of farm projects we could do,” Wright said. “I had grain, cotton and vegetable projects as a student. I was doing everything from planting to harvesting. In addition to working for the school farm and private farms, I owe a lot to the professors there, who offered the applied aspects of farming along with their teaching programs.”
While completing his master's degree in agronomy in December 1980, Wright began work with UC Cooperative Extension in Tulare County. His education and work experience was immediately applicable on the job, where he was hired to work with cereal crops. Two years later, when the UCCE weed science advisor retired, Wright's research and teaching experience with weed management allowed him to take on this additional responsibility in Tulare County. When the UCCE cotton advisor retired, Wright stepped up and began to also work with cotton. Wright was later given the opportunity to cover cotton and cereal crops work with Kings County farmers.
Besides focusing much of his research on all aspects of cereals and cotton production, he also worked on weed control projects in rangeland, irrigation districts, the first herbicide-tolerant crops and later herbicide-resistant weeds in both annual and permanent crops.
“The job got bigger and changed all the time,” Wright said. “I enjoyed working in different disciplines, from controlling yellow starthistle in the foothills, to working with large- and small-acreage farmers in Tulare and Kings counties. I thrived on that.”
Wright was involved with administration and committees, serving as president of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources Academic Assembly Council, UC ANR Program Council member, and president and honorary member of California Weed Science Society. He also coordinated the building and management of California Youth Soccer Association soccer fields in Visalia.
In retirement, Wright said he plans stay in Visalia and spend time taking long walks with his young chocolate Labrador retriever. He is seeking emeritus status with UCCE and plans to work part time continuing with a few research projects that are underway. He is planning on pursuing his passion for international volunteer work and recreational outdoor activities, including camping, snow skiing, going to Morro Bay, and enjoying three grandchildren.
A gardening and produce-sharing app took top prize in the Apps for Ag hackathon, after contestants pitched judges at the California State Fair in Sacramento on Sunday (July 17). The first place team, GivingGarden, took home $7,500 in prize money, custom rodeo belt buckles and a six-month, top-tier membership to the AgStart Incubator in Woodland.
Second place was awarded to Sense and Protect, a mobile task-management app that connects to climate sensors to protect farmworkers' health and enhance their productivity. Sense and Protect team members Dhrubajyoti Das, Alex Avalos, Anthony Johnson and Peter Swanson share $4,500.
Third place went to ACP STAR System, a geo and temporal database and platform for tracking Asian citrus psyllid and other invasive pests. Team members Mark Takata and Chinh Lam share $2,500.
The top three teams will also receive complimentary startup incorporation services valued at $2,200 from Royse Law.
All of the participating teams had about 48 hours to develop their apps. Teams that were interested were offered $500 in “cloud credits” to build their solutions and host them on Amazon Web Services' platform. Teams also had access to an IoT kit to incorporate connected devices into their solution.
The top four teams pitched their apps to judges in front of a live audience at the California State Fair.
The Apps for Ag hackathon, which was sponsored by UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, the California State Fair and the City of Sacramento, brought together software developers, designers, entrepreneurs, farmers and others who work in agriculture.
“Using technology we can find better ways to reduce pesticide use, increase irrigation efficiency, reduce travel into the fields, manage people better, and deal with the fact that we have a huge labor shortage in this state,” said Humiston, who served as one of the Apps for Ag judges.
The other judges included University of California Chief Information Officer Tom Andriola, USDA Chief Data Officer Bobby Jones, and Better Food Ventures and Mixing Bowl Hub founder Rob Trice.
For more information about Apps for Ag, visit http://www.apps-for-ag.com.
The funding, which includes $151,000 for each of UC's 10 campuses, is in addition to the $75,000 per campus that Napolitano allocated in 2015 to address the immediate challenges of ensuring that students have ready access to nutritious food, and reflects the UC Global Food Initiative goal of promoting a nutritious, sustainable food supply.
“Food security is a critical issue not only on college campuses, but throughout our country and the world,” Napolitano said. “We undertook this survey, and are acting on its findings, because the University is serious about addressing real, long-term solutions to improve the well-being of our students.”
To better gauge the food security of its students, UC administered an online survey in spring 2015 to a randomly selected sample of students from all UC campuses. Of the 66,000 students asked to participate, nearly 9,000 completed the survey – a 14 percent response rate. Undergraduate and graduate students were invited to participate in one of two ways: through the National College Health Assessment II survey administered by the American College Health Association, or through an independent campus survey administered by the UC Office of the President‘s Institutional Research and Academic Planning Division. In both formats, the survey utilized a six-item U.S. Department of Agriculture food security module.
The survey responses were evaluated by the UC Nutrition Policy Institute, part of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources.
According to the survey, 19 percent of UC students indicated they had “very low” food security, which the USDA defines as experiencing reduced food intake at times due to limited resources. An additional 23 percent were characterized as having “low” food security, defined by the USDA as reduced quality, variety or desirability of diet, with little or no indication of reduced food intake.
Based on the results of this Food Access and Security study and in conjunction with student representatives systemwide, UC developed an action plan tailored to the needs of individual campuses while maximizing coordination among them. The plan includes:
- Expanding food pantry storage and access
- Increasing collaboration with state and county offices to register students for CalFresh, California's nutrition assistance program
- Establishing and expanding awareness campaigns on student support services and food access
- Expanding the existing Swipe Out Hunger programs, which allow university students to donate excess dollars on their meal plan to reduce hunger on campuses
- Integrating food preparation and secure storage space into new student housing design and construction
- Enhancing financial aid communications about housing and food costs
These measures build on UC's efforts to address the issues of student food access. In 2014, Napolitano and UC's 10 chancellors launched the UC Global Food Initiative and in 2015 asked each campus to form a food security working group that included undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, staff, administration, and community experts. These working groups formalized ongoing campus efforts on all nine undergraduate campuses to establish food pantries for emergency relief and to develop plans to expand the Swipe Out Hunger programs. UC also convened the California Higher Education Food Summit at UC Santa Barbara in 2015 and UC Irvine in 2016 to discuss strategies for improving food security.
The study is available to download here: http://ucop.edu/global-food-initiative/best-practices/food-access-security/student-food-access-and-security-study.pdf
UC ANR ups prize money for apps to solve real agriculture problems
Winners receive $7,500 for first place, $4,500 for second place and $2,500 for third place
The stakes have been raised. UC Agriculture and Natural Resources has added more cash to the prizes for the fourth Apps for Ag Hackathon on July 15-17. Software developers, designers, entrepreneurs, farmers, farm consultants and others in the agricultural industry are invited to compete.
At the hackathon, anyone with an idea for a mobile app that would simplify a task for growers or ranchers can team up with people who can turn the idea into something functional.
“We hope to create some really transformative technology for agriculture,” said Gabriel Youtsey, UC ANR's chief information officer.
Teams will compete in three challenge areas: pest management, drought and irrigation efficiency, and healthy soil. See http://www.apps-for-ag.com/challenges/ for details. Food or agriculture-related concepts that do not fit within these challenge areas are also welcome.
The competition, the fourth in a series to solve real problems in agriculture and food, is being hosted by UC ANR and the California State Fair.
The hackathon will be held at the UC ANR building at 2801 Second Street in Davis, from 8 a.m. Friday, July 15, to 11 a.m. Sunday, July 17.
Participants will compete for cash prizes at a “pitchfest” in front of a live audience at the California State Fair on Sunday, July 17, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Prizes will be awarded to the top three apps: $7,500 for first place, $4,500 for second place and $2,500 for third place.
The first place team will also receive a six-month top-tier membership to the AgStart Incubator in Woodland and custom rodeo-style belt buckles. All three top teams will also receive complimentary startup incorporation services from Royse Law worth $2,200.
USDA Deputy Chief Information Officer Joyce Hunter will be a keynote speaker. Judges will include University of California Chief Information Officer Tom Andriola, UC Vice President for Agriculture and Natural Resources Glenda Humiston, USDA Chief Data Officer Bobby Jones, and Better Food Ventures and Mixing Bowl Hub Founder Rob Trice.
“Hackathons are a great way to spur innovation in industry verticals where technology has not been fully adopted,” said Trice.
The Apps for Ag hackathon is sponsored by UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, the California State Fair and City of Sacramento.
For more information and to register, visit http://www.apps-for-ag.com.