Projects Funded for Sarah Smith


Economics of Carbon Sequestration on Farms: Evidence from Canada

Julian Alston, Devin Serfas, Sarah Smith, and Shanchao Wang


Proposed Objectives of the Project:
The objective of this study (Devin Serfas’ dissertation project) is to exploit a unique panel dataset from Saskatchewan (1) to model and measure the implications of alternative cropping choices—including tillage systems, crop rotations, and fallow—for quantities of atmospheric CO2 sequestered as soil organic carbon (SOC), (2) to measure the benefits and costs to farmers from adopting cropping choices that increase SOC over time, and (3) to explore potential policies for encouraging farmers to adopt cropping choices that sequester atmospheric CO2.

Summary of Research to Date:
The project has gone largely according to plan. Devin has completed good drafts of the first two chapters of his dissertation, corresponding to the first two objectives enumerated above, and has made a beginning on the third. The plan is to complete the first two chapters in the current quarter (Spring 2023), to make substantive progress on the third chapter over the Summer while in residence at the University of Saskatchewan, and to wrap up the dissertation during the Fall quarter, 2023. The Giannini Foundation mini-grant was used to leverage funding support from the Saskatchewan Wheat Development Commission which will continue to support Devin through the Summer and Fall of 2023.


Weather-induced Variability in Quality, Yield and Grower Income: An Application to Californian Processing Tomatoes

Tim Beatty and Sarah Smith


Specific Objectives of the Project:

  • Study the impact of extreme weather on an irrigated, specialty crop, adding to a literature largely focused on staple crop yields.
  • Answer the following research questions: Has historical weather impacted the incomes of specialty crop producers through its effect on both yield and quality?Does the yield or quality effect dominate?

Summary of Results:

  • To answer these questions, we use proprietary field-level data from a large tomato processor operating in California's processing tomato industry.
  • In contrast to earlier work on irrigated crops, we find that extreme temperatures negatively affect both yield and quality, leading to reduced grower revenue.
  • We find that yield responds negatively to exposure to hot temperatures and, to a lesser extent, cool temperatures.
  • Further, quality declines with exposure to hot temperatures and growers receive a lower price per ton.
  • Taken as a whole, we find that, relative to 24 hours of average temperatures, exposure to temperatures in excess of 30°C decreases revenue. Exposure to cool temperatures below 10°C causes a significant, but smaller, decrease in revenue.
  • While the yield effect dominates, failing to account for quality significantly underestimates the true effect of temperature exposure on revenue by up to 20%.

Implications of Climate Change for the Benefits of Collective Reputation Created by AVAs for California’s Wine

Julian Alston and Sarah Smith


Specific Objectives of the Project:
The objective of this study is to quantify the role of American Viticultural Areas
(AVAs) in mediating the relationship between (1) an evolving climate (the long-run expected weather in a region), (2) weather variation around the regional norm (vintage effects), and (3) the variety-specific price premia and quality (expert rating scores) for varietal wines in different parts of California. The more specific objectives are (1) to compile data on prices and expert rating scores for California wines and match these to data on relevant measures of weather and climate, (2) to estimate statistical models of varietal wine prices (and ratings) as a function of these measures of weather and climate for each of the main varieties, and (3) to derive estimates of the location-specific relationship between prices (and ratings) and climate and draw inferences for the future matching of varieties to AVAs in light of climate projections.

Project Report/Summary of Results:
We made considerable progress on developing concepts, preparing and cleaning data, and consulting others on interpretation of weather and climate data from different sources. We have estimated preliminary models for parts of the work and are at advanced stages of preparation for the rest of it. We anticipate completing parts of the work in 2022, and some results may be finalized and published within this year, but the more complete analysis is expected to take at least another year—i.e., until mid-2023. Initial results are promising. We expect to complete at least two papers by mid-2023.