Projects Funded for Tim Beatty


Impacts of Wildfire on Farmworker Injury in California

Tim Beatty and Goeun Lee


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%.


Air Pollution Exposure and Agricultural Worker Productivity

Tim Beatty and Alexandra Hill


Specific Objectives of the Project:

  • Distribute Fitbit activity trackers to workers on 3 strawberry farms in California.
  • Construct measures of temperature and pollution from gridded temperature and satellite data.
  • Merge the activity tracking and pollution data with hourly productivity of strawberry harvesters to examine the immediate, lagged, and cumulative effects of pollution on both activity and productivity.
  • Obtain measures of activity and caloric exertion for agricultural laborers in California.

Summary of Results:
This project was significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. We were unable to access our field sites during in 2020 and 2021, which shifted the deployment of our data collection exercise until July 2022. During the grant period we acquired and developed all materials necessary to go to the field.
Accomplishments to date:

  • IRB approval and all consent materials and survey instruments in both English and Spanish.
  • Fitbit movement trackers were acquired and Fitibase software to manage real time data collection as well as sending reminders to participants was piloted.
  • Code to create pollution and temperature measures during the planned intervention was obtained.


The Minimum Wage and Productivity: A Case Study of California Strawberry Pickers

Tim Beatty and Alexandra Hill


Specific Objectives of the Project:
This project sought to document the productivity effects of minimum wage increases on piece rate agricultural workers. Specific research questions included:

  1. Do piece rate workers become less productive in response to an increase in the minimum (hourly) wage without a contemporaneous increase in the piece rate?
  2. To what extent can producers mitigate these productivity losses by increasing the piece rate wage?
  3. How do changes in the piece rate and minimum hourly wage affect the profile of new hires and the resulting composition of the workforce?

Project Report/Summary of Results:
The project resulted in the first essay in Alexandra Hill’s thesis, which subsequently won the AAEA 2020 Outstanding Dissertation award. The main results of the project provided pilot data for a USDA-NIFA AFRI Proposal. This project is broader than the Giannini Foundation grant, but would not have been possible without the seed money provided by the foundation. If successful, the grant requests funds to fund a UC Davis ARE PhD student for 3 full years.


Heat-Related Illnesses Among California Agricultural Workers

Tim Beatty and Alexandra Hill


Specific Objectives of the Project:
This project studies the costs and prevalence of heat related illnesses in
California’s agricultural workforce using clinical hospital admissions data.
Research questions included:
• What are the causal effects of temperature, wages, and commodity prices
on the prevalence of heat-related illnesses among agricultural workers?
• How do hospital-reported heat illness rates among agricultural workers
compare to employer self-reports?
• Are agricultural workers in California experiencing a chronic heat-related
illness, Chronic Kidney Disease, first seen in agricultural workers in
Central America?

Project Report/Summary of Results:
This project came to a series of null findings. We found imprecise estimates of a
null effect.
The better news is that in the course of the project, we compiled data from
California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (Cal-OSHPD),
as well as incident reports from Cal-OSHA and had to reconcile discrepancies
between multiple data sources.
Because of this preliminary work, we were invited to submit a proposal to
participate in the Western Center for Agricultural Health and Safety’s (WCAHS)
renewal proposal. WCAHS is a National Institute of Occupational Health and
Safety agricultural center. These centers are on 5-year funding cycles and each
renewal proposals are made up of a portfolio of projects. If our project is chosen
to be part of the renewal, and the center is renewed, this would lead to five years
of funding in the 150,000 to 200,000 per year.


Understanding Compliance and Deterrence in a Food Safety Context

Tim Beatty and Jay Shimshack


Specific Objectives of the Project:
We quantify the role regulation and enforcement play in affecting US food safety
outcomes by analyzing previously unstudied administrative data. Research
questions include:
• How do inspections and enforcement actions influence food safety
outcomes at the inspected or sanctioned facility?
• How do inspections and enforcement actions directed towards one facility
influence food safety outcomes at other facilities?
• What confounding factors (i.e. facility characteristics, economic trends)
impact food safety outcomes and facility responsiveness to regulatory actions?
• What data, metrics, and methods can be used to measure deterrence
outcomes in a food safety context?
• How do food recalls and illness outbreaks interact with the regulatory
process to influence food safety outcomes?
In this study our measure of food safety is the levels of microbial contaminants
(e.g. Salmonella E.coli, etc…) detected by Food Safety and Inspection Service
(FSIS) in the course of standard inspections.

Project Report/Summary of Results:
Funds from this project lead to a unique partnership between the USDA-FSIS,
UC Davis, and the University of Virginia to analyze administrative data related to
food safety. As a direct result of the grant we signed a data-sharing MOU with
Preliminary results from this project served as the basis for a USDA-AFRI
proposal, which was funded in the 2018 fiscal year, in the amount of $499,968 –
representing a seventeen-fold return on the Giannini Foundation’s investment.