- Author: Mike Hsu
Publication in English, Spanish prepares private applicators for state exam
Expanded from four chapters in the previous edition to 12, the third edition of Pesticide Safety: A Study Manual for Private Applicators aims to be more than just a study guide.
The manual, available for purchase in English and Spanish, provides much more detail on essential processes and procedures that will help keep applicators safe while using pesticides – as well as reduce environmental impacts from misapplication.
Published by University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources in collaboration with the state's Department of Pesticide Regulation, the manual – intended for members of the agricultural community who own, manage or work on farms that use restricted-use pesticides – also includes substantial updates.
“The information in the book they were using was way out of date,” said writer/editor Shannah Whithaus, senior editor for pesticide safety education with UC ANR's Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program. “Also, the book was much, much shorter than it needed to be, because it wasn't providing enough information for people to safely apply pesticides, given the complexity of the regulatory environment we're in now.”
The new manual reflects important changes to federal and state regulations since the publication of the previous edition in 2006.
“There are significant regulatory updates which help you stay up-to-date with safety rules and standards – and protect your workers from overexposure to pesticides,” said Lisa Blecker, technical editor of the publication, and currently a pesticide safety educator at Colorado State University.
In addition to emphasizing the broader ecological ramifications of improper pesticide use, the manual includes information on subjects that might get short shrift in other manuals, such as the correct calibration of equipment to ensure accuracy of application.
“All of that is now in the book and fully fleshed out,” Whithaus said. “[Applicators] are going to be able to do that much more effectively using the new book, compared to the old one – it was really hard to be thorough in 80-some pages.”
The new edition – totaling more than 200 substantive pages – also features a more streamlined and user-friendly layout modeled after a sister publication, The Safe and Effective Use of Pesticides, written for commercial applicators.
“A significant update is a layout that is not only beautiful, but helps you identify key information you need to know in order to make safe and effective pesticide applications,” Blecker explained.
She highlighted the “knowledge expectations” listed at the beginning of each chapter and in the margins of the book, next to the relevant passages. The statements serve as “visual cues” to help readers learn and retain the material they need to pass California DPR's certification exam for private applicators.
And while the manual functions as an improved study aid for owners, managers and workers who apply pesticides, it doubles as a reference that they can turn to for years to come.
“It's going to be able to serve as a reference manual, as opposed to just a study guide,” Whithaus said. “You really will be able to use this book as a tool to help you do better in managing your land.”
The manual, listed at $29, is available for purchase in English at https://anrcatalog.ucanr.edu/Details.aspx?itemNo=3383 and in Spanish at https://anrcatalog.ucanr.edu/Details.aspx?itemNo=3394./h4>
- Author: Ria DeBiase, Communications Director, Giannini Foundation of Agricultural Economics
If energy price spikes and supply chain disruptions continue, inflation expected to persist
In January 2022, inflation reached its highest yearly increase at 7.5% in nearly 40 years. But are these high rates here to stay, or are they only a temporary symptom of COVID-19 and the recent supply chain-related disruptions?
Economists from UC Davis, Bar-Ilan University, and the London School of Economics analyzed financial markets that trade in the risk of inflation to show how expectations of long-term inflation have changed over the last year. They found that between November 2020 and November 2021, there was over a tenfold increase in the probability of average inflation lying above 3% over the next five years, suggesting that many expect inflation to persist.
Inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), has risen dramatically over the last year. Gas prices hit a new all-time high in November 2021, with inflation for food at home, electricity, and new vehicles at 6.5%, 6.3%, and 11.8%, respectively, in December. Rising oil and natural gas prices, higher personal savings and increased consumer demand coming out of the lockdown, and a sluggish supply chain coming out of the pandemic may all be partially to blame for inflation over the last year.
As pent-up demand slows and supply chains adapt, their impact on inflation may also subside. But, if the energy price spike in response to the invasion of Ukraine persists and if supply disruptions continue, it could lead consumers to demand higher wages to increase their purchasing power.
“If companies raise prices in response to higher wage demands by workers, leading to further high expectations of inflation, further wage demands, and so on, then the United States could enter the wage-price spiral that is often at the heart of high and persistent inflation,” said Jens Hilscher, associate professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at UC Davis.
To better understand the likelihood of long-term inflation, Hilscher and co-authors Alon Raviv, senior lecturer at Bar-Ilan University, and Ricardo Reis, A.W. Phillips Professor of Economics at the London School of Economics, looked to the financial markets that trade in contracts that pay off if inflation rises above a given cutoff (with one cutoff at 3% and another at 4% — both well above the Federal Reserve's target of 2% inflation per year). Assessing the payoffs of these two types of contracts allowed them to determine the probability of the average inflation being above 3% or 4% over the next five years.
They found that between November 2020 and November 2021, the probability of an average inflation of 3% jumped from 6.1% to 66.2%, while the probability of an average inflation of 4% rose from 1.6% to 14.1%, a dramatic increase.
Long-term inflation leads to higher uncertainty, making long-term planning harder for businesses and individuals alike. It also leads to lenders experiencing a loss in the real value of the money they are repaid. Over time, these factors lead lenders to charge higher interest rates to account for uncertainty and potential losses. In turn, access to credit will suffer.
Hilscher noted, “A central bank that is very committed to a stable inflation target can always bring inflation down, even if only by causing a recession. We will see over the next several months which risk the Fed perceives to be the greater threat to our economy.”
To learn more about the risk of long-term inflation, read the full article “Inflation Risks are on the Rise,” by Hilscher, Raviv and Reis published by UC Giannini Foundation of Agricultural Economics in ARE Update 25(3): 9–11, free online at https://giannini.ucop.edu/filer/file/1645718420/20317.
ARE Update is a bimonthly magazine published by the Giannini Foundation of Agricultural Economics to educate policymakers and agribusiness professionals about new research or analysis of important topics in agricultural and resource economics. Articles are written by Giannini Foundation members, including University of California faculty and Cooperative Extension specialists in agricultural and resource economics, and university graduate students. Learn more about the Giannini Foundation and its publications at https://giannini.ucop.edu.
- Author: Pamela Kan-Rice
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today (Jan. 25) announced plenary speakers for the 2022 Agricultural Outlook Forum, themed “New Paths to Sustainability and Productivity Growth” to be held virtually Feb. 24–25, 2022.
The opening plenary session will feature a fireside chat between Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Elizabeth Economy, senior advisor to the Secretary of Commerce. Secretary Vilsack and Economy will discuss U.S.-China agricultural trade relations and prospects for the Chinese agriculture market.
The Secretary's discussion will be followed by a panel titled “Growing Market Opportunities for Climate Smart, Sustainable Agriculture Systems,” which will bring together sector leaders to discuss how climate smart, sustainable production practices can generate both environmental and economic returns, while still meeting the needs of consumers.
Speakers at the plenary panel include:
- David Allen, VP of Sustainability at PepsiCo Foods;
- Glenda Humiston, Vice President, Agriculture & Natural Resources at University of California;
- Mike McCloskey, Co-Founder and CEO of Select Milk Producers;
- Elena Rice, Chief Scientific Officer of Genus, PLC; and
- Emily Skor, CEO, Growth Energy
“The Outlook Forum is USDA's largest event of the year. Being asked by Secretary Vilsack to serve on the opening plenary panel is a significant honor,” said Humiston.
Also, during the Thursday morning session, USDA Chief Economist Seth Meyer will unveil the Department's 2022 outlook for U.S. commodity markets and trade and discuss the U.S. farm income situation.
Along with the plenary session, forum attendees can choose from 30 sessions with more than 90 speakers. The concurrent track sessions and topics supporting this year's theme are: climate mitigation and adaptation, supply chain resilience, commodity outlooks, frontiers in agricultural production and technology and U.S. trade and global markets.
Registration to the 2022 Outlook Forum is free but required. Register at https://www.labroots.com/ms/virtual-event/usda-aof-2022.
USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America's food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy, and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.
- Author: Emily Caldwell, The Ohio State University
- Author: Pamela Kan-Rice
Study analyzes tension between legal cannabis, financial industry
Legalization of marijuana in California has helped some financial institutions in the state increase their assets. At the same time, many banks, feeling stifled by federal regulations, deny services to licensed growers, manufacturers and retailers, a new study shows.
“Licensed cannabis businesses need to bank their cash and take out loans to build their businesses, but many banks worry that by doing business with the cannabis industry, they'll be flouting federal laws,” said co-author Keith Taylor, University of California Cooperative Extension community development specialist. “Banks that won't accept legal cannabis cash deposits and don't provide loans, aren't monetizing their deposits. Marginalized cannabis communities are missing out on capital.”
Of the banks and credit unions contacted by researchers at The Ohio State University and University of California for the study, most were not knowingly involved in the cannabis industry.
Combining data on bank holdings and interviews with growers and bankers, the research –published online in the journal Agricultural Finance Review – paints an initial picture of how the marijuana and financial industries co-exist in California now, and suggests regulatory changes could create new opportunities for both.
The data analysis did make one thing clear: Legalization of the estimated $16 billion marijuana industry in California has been a boon to financial institutions. But restricted access to banking, from checking accounts to loans, perpetuates inequities for those participating in the legal production of cannabis – while unlicensed, illegal growing and exporting continues as an enormous cash-based sector of the industry.
“We need a better understanding of the economics of this industry and all of the questions and implications related to it so the impacts of policy choices are intentional,” said lead study author Zoë Plakias, assistant professor of agricultural, environmental and development economics at The Ohio State University.
“If we want to have a more equitable society and allow communities to keep more of the value of this crop, how do we do that? We first need to characterize what happens in communities when you legalize cannabis.”
Plakias and Margaret Jodlowski, assistant professor of agricultural, environmental and development economics at Ohio State, conducted the study with researchers Taylor, Parisa Kavousi and Taylor Giamo at the University of California, Davis.
“The tensions we are observing in the cannabis banking space comes about in part due to the inequity felt between large cannabis and small and legacy operators,” Taylor said. “The ‘big guys' are able to absorb a great deal more than ‘Ma and Pa.'”
Legalization benefited financial institutions indirectly
Marijuana is listed as a Schedule 1 drug under the federal Controlled Substances Act. Even in states that have legalized recreational and medicinal use of cannabis, it is still a federal crime to possess, buy or sell marijuana. California legalized recreational cannabis for adults in 2016, and the industry is overseen by the Department of Cannabis Control.
Data used by the researchers for this study included bank and credit union call data for the years 2015-2020. The analysis showed that assets held by financial institutions in counties that legalized marijuana had increased in that period by almost $750 million and loan activity rose by about $500 million.
These benefits are presumed to be spillover effects of better overall economic health that followed cannabis legalization in specific counties, Jodlowski said, because the interviews with financial institutions indicated there has been little appetite among banks to associate with the marijuana industry.
“It's important to remember when talking about loans that it's not possible to identify whether they were for cannabis operations, and they're probably not based on what we heard from stakeholders,” she said. “It's more of a general relationship. The bank is doing better, and they're able to lend out more in general and earn more interest from loans.”
When they narrowed the analysis to banks that operate only in California, the researchers found that for each single new manufacturing or retail license, bank assets and loan capacity grew by tens of thousands of dollars. Cannabis cultivation licenses, on the other hand, had no impact on California banks' holdings.
“This suggests that a lot of the economic benefits of legalization come from other stages of the supply chain – and it's not a foregone conclusion that farmers benefit from legalization,” Plakias said. “There's a need to think about how farmers who are producing cannabis in the legal market, often operating in rural environments with a weaker economic base to start with, can be supported in the context of economic development.”
The team also interviewed marijuana farmers and representatives from banks and credit unions in Humboldt, Trinity and Mendocino counties – the “Emerald Triangle” region known historically in California and nationally for the quantity and quality of marijuana produced there.
Cannabis growers face obstacles, risk-adverse bankers
On the financial side, bankers reported being hamstrung by ambiguous federal guidelines that pose a real risk to financing cannabis, largely because banks are required to report suspicious transactions to the federal government. They might be seen as players in a criminal enterprise even by providing banking services to employees who work for licensed members of the cannabis industry, or they could lose big on lending if cannabis-related assets backing a loan were seized by federal agents.
“What's consistent across all financial institutions is that it's very costly, and does involve taking on some risk, to be in compliance with all of the guidelines – the risk being that even if you follow all guidelines to the letter, there's no assurance that you can't still get in trouble,” Plakias said.
Cannabis growers they interviewed reported paying fees ranging from $200 to $3,000 per month for bank accounts, which they found to be cost prohibitive. These limitations leave most licensed marijuana producers and retailers in the lurch, forcing them to rely on nontraditional financing arrangements – maybe investing in friends' endeavors – or risk running cash operations.
“There is a lot of evidence that cash can be better for a local economy because cash tends to stay local – but we are now a credit-based economy,” Jodlowski said. “In this day and age it's incredibly harmful for local economic development to have an entire sector that's denied access to credit, because so much of developing as a household, or individual, or industry requires credit and requires demonstration of credit-worthiness.
“That's a fundamental harm of these sorts of restrictions.”
This research is part of a larger project on cannabis and community economic development in California supported by a grant from the UC Davis Cannabis and Hemp Research Center. As part of this project, the California authors on this paper recently published a review of the opportunities and challenges marijuana legalization poses for localities in which the crop is cultivated and sold.
“It's clear we need policies making cannabis banking and finance more equitable,” Taylor said. “It's also clear that ‘Ma and Pa' enterprises need to associate together in formal organizations so they can achieve economies of scale and harness their political power to endure the transition to legal.”
Despite the stigma attached to marijuana, even when legal, its status as California's most valuable crop – estimated to be worth more than almonds and dairy combined – attracts outsiders who are better-equipped to come up with funding to get their operations started and compete with legacy growers who have lived and worked in California for generations.
This trend necessitates development of evidence-based policies that take all participants into consideration, the Ohio State researchers say.
“Our findings speak to confusion around existing policies and the need for streamlining, clarifying and having a more unified approach to regulating this industry,” Jodlowski said.
- Author: Pamela Kan-Rice
The Yolo County walnut growers will provide as much as $100,000 per year for “practical” research
The University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) announced that Dan and Sarah Hrdy, owners of Citrona Farms LLC, a walnut farm in Winters, have established The Daniel & Sarah Hrdy Fund for UC Cooperative Extension Research.
The fund will provide as much as $100,000 in seed funding for early-stage research projects each year for UC Cooperative Extension advisors and specialists, as well as their academic collaborators. Dan, a former clinical professor of medicine (infectious diseases) at UC Davis Medical Center, and Sarah, a professor emerita of anthropology at UC Davis, created the fund to express their appreciation for UC Cooperative Extension's practical yet cutting edge research.
“Over the years, we have hosted a number of researchers from UC ANR, UC Davis and UC Berkeley studying topics related to sustainable agriculture, habitat restoration and wildlife conservation and have benefited both directly and indirectly from the UC Cooperative Extension network,” said Dan Hrdy. More than 20 years of UC research hosted at Citrona Farms is detailed on their website at www.citrona.com.
Research proposals will be selected by the leaders of UC ANR's Strategic Initiatives: Sustainable Food Systems; Endemic and Invasive Pests and Diseases; and Sustainable Natural Ecosystems.
Areas of special interest include:
- Sustainable Agriculture, with special regard to climate change
- Interaction of Natural Ecosystems and Agriculture
- Habitat Restoration and Conservation
- Wildfire and Forest Restoration
"The timing for this donation could not have been better as UC ANR is actively recruiting an extraordinary number of new UCCE advisors and specialists and support for their research is greatly appreciated," Wendy Powers, UC ANR associate vice president, said. “This is a great example of how local relationships build trust and support for UCCE efforts across the state."
The fund will be established with annual gifts as part of a payout from the donor's retirement account, along with a bequest that, when paid, will create a permanent endowment where the payouts will continue to fund this project. The Hrdys hope to make others aware of this method of charitable giving.
"We were able to use required payouts from a retirement account to set up this gift,” said Dan Hrdy. “I hope more people will look into doing this to help support Cooperative Extension.”
Investors who must satisfy a required minimum distribution from their retirement accounts may consider a qualified charitable distribution (QCD), said Greg Gibbs, UC ANR executive director of Development Services.
“A qualified charitable distribution is a direct transfer of funds from your IRA custodian, payable to a qualified charity, like the UC Regents/UC ANR,” Gibbs said. “Once you've reached age 72, the QCD amount counts toward your required minimum distribution for the year, up to an annual maximum of $100,000. It's not included in your gross income and does not count against the limits on deductions for charitable contributions.”