An Analysis of the Impact of Heat Waves in Labor and Crop Productivity in the Agricultural Sector in California

Friday, December 15, 2017 - 08:00
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California agriculture is an important economic activity for the state. California leads the nation in farms sales since 1950. In addition, agricultural employment in California reached approximately 410,000. Production of many fruits and vegetables is labor intensive and labor costs represent anywhere from 20% to 40% of total production costs. In additon, agricutlural production growth has been the highest for labor intensive crops such as berries (all types) and nuts. Given the importance of the agricultural sector and the labor component whithin it, the analysis of the impact of climate change on the agricultural sector of California becomes imperative. Heat waves are a weather related extreme that impact labor productivity, specially outdoor labor producitivity. We use crop production function analysis that incorporates socio economic variables such as crop prices, total acreage, production levels and harvest timiline with climate related variables such as an estimated Heat Index (HI) to analize the impact of heat waves on crop production via an impact on labor productivity for selected crops in the Central and Imperial Valleys in California. The analysis finds that the impact of heat waves varies by the degree of labor intensity of the crop and the relative intensity of the heat wave.

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