AIC Quarterly: Volume 11, No. 3, 1997


VOLUME 11. NO. 3. 1997


Several articles in this UC/AIC Quarterly highlight the importance of international trade and global relationships to agriculture in California. This issue is once again in the news as the US Congress debates the President’s negotiating authority for new trade agreements. AIC has contributed to the dialog over trade policy in the past and we will continue to provide analyses of these issues.

Among the most dramatic economic trends in recent years has been the growth of the Asian market for agricultural imports. Not only has the market grown in such places as Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong, but markets in other Asian countries are now poised to expand rapidly over the next decade or so.

While this AIC Quarterly is being finalized and distributed I am getting a first-hand look at one of the most important and dynamic economies in Asia. During the month of October, Hyunok Lee, UC Davis agricultural economist, and I will be in China, teaching graduate courses in agricultural policy analysis and gathering information and contacts for future research. We will then proceed to South Korea for one week to gather data related to ongoing research on Korean markets and policy.

The Agricultural Issues Center will continue to deal with many topics of interest to California agriculture. None are more important than improved understanding of international markets and related policies.


Harold O. Carter, recently retired founding director of the Center, has been given the 1997 Award of Distinction, the highest recognition granted by the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences to those whose contributions have advanced the mission and enhanced the image of the College. He is one of 11 recipients from industry, agriculture and research institutions, including UC.

The awards were presented October 17, during the College’s annual Fall celebration and award ceremony. Carter, now professor emeritus in the UCD Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, was honored for, among other achievements, a landmark study of world hunger and food supply, contributions to economic programs in Egypt, and development of the Agricultural Issues Center as “a forum where crucial trends and policy issues affecting agriculture and natural resources in California and the West are analyzed.”



As indicated in the last AIC Quarterly, the Center has created program areas, each led by an Associate Director. The background and expertise of the fifth new AIC Associate Director is described below.

Jerry Siebert
Agribusiness Issues

Jerry Siebert is an economist in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of California, Berkeley. Prior to this assignment, he was Director of U.C. Cooperative Extension. In addition to his academic experience, he has held positions in both business and government. In the latter assignments, he was special assistant to four U.S. Secretaries of Agriculture. He also has a farming background on a family farm in Madera, California.

His work centers on research and education involving the impacts on California agriculture of changes in public policies affecting production and marketing of California agricultural commodities. In particular, he analyzes the use of market mechanisms to evaluate the potential economic effects of changes in public policy. His current focus is the role of technology in California agriculture and changes needed in industry and research institutions to facilitate the development and application of agricultural biotechnology. He is also an active participant in a Russian project to facilitate the transfer of technology in a market economy.

In addition to his work at the University of California, he is an “ex-officio” member of the California State Consolidated Farm Services Committee, a public member on the California Walnut Commission and chairman of the Walnut Marketing Board, president of the San Francisco Farmers Club, and a member of the Board of Directors of the International Agribusiness Management Association.




In each of the next issues, the AIC Quarterly will introduce the new AIC program areas. Interactions between California agriculture and the larger society, particularly the urban populations and communities of the state, are the focus of this AIC program. Up to now, we have concentrated largely on the impacts of rapid urban growth on farmland—emphasizing farmland preservation and other land use policies as they are established and carried out by California’s state and local governments. Looking ahead, we would like to stretch the boundaries of this program area to include other types of interactions critical to the future health of California agriculture. We are looking for challenging issues that call for new research or new syntheses of existing data and knowledge, that have state and local public policy dimensions, and that can generate useful educational outcomes in publications, conferences and other forms. Readers of the AIC Quarterly with ideas along these lines are invited to contact me. (Phone: 916-752-0979. E-mail:

What have we done so far, and what are the projects in the pipeline or planned for the near future?

The origins of this program go back to two projects carried out by AIC in the late 1980s, a study of the Williamson Act commissioned by state government and the Central Valley Confluence of Change project. The Williamson Act study had a positive although unanticipated effect on policy when, late in the 1993 deliberations on the state budget, the subvention to local governments for property tax losses was doubled and the formula for allocating the payments was revised to pay less for parcels close to cities—both recommendations of the 1989 study. The two-year Confluence of Change project culminated in two large conferences in Sacramento and Fresno in 1990, produced several reports and videos, and brought together more than 60 UC researchers in a comprehensive review of the implications of population growth on the Central Valley’s agricultural and other resources, residents, and local governments. Much of my outreach work as a Cooperative Extension specialist has followed in the footsteps of that 1989-90 project.

More recently, AIC held two conferences on farm-urban “edge” issues. They were (1) Farmers and Neighbors (October, 1995) that primarily examined pesticide application controversies, and (2) California’s Future: Maintaining Viable Agriculture at the Urban Edge (December, 1996) that covered a large set of edge concerns. The published proceedings of both conferences are available from the Center, as is the widely-used Farmers and Neighbors video.

An ongoing feature of our program area is the research report series on California Farmland and Open Space Policy. Three reports in the series have been published so far: studies of (1) preservation programs in four North Bay counties, (2) farmland provisions in county general plans in the Central Valley, and (3) municipal density patterns and policies in the Central Valley as related to farmland protection. Currently under preparation are two candidate reports for the series—a study of the effects of Measure A (restricting new urban growth to cities) in Solano County and a comparison of farmland protection policies and their political roots in seven Central Valley counties.

Scheduled for publication early next year is a book-length collection of articles, California Farmland and Urban Pressures: Statewide and Regional Perspectives,that has been peer-reviewed. The approximately ten pieces in this collection include statewide studies of population and farmland trends, dimensions of the edge problem, state policy, California agricultural history, and the experience of local land trusts. Also included are case studies of farmland preservation problems and programs in Marin, Napa and Ventura counties and the San Joaquin and Sacramento valleys.

As to possible future activities, we are considering a project on generational change in California farm families that would integrate research from several different disciplines—agricultural economics, sociology, anthropology, and law. The issue has implications for agricultural industry and farmland preservation as well as individual families, since shifts from one generation to the next in the ownership and management of farms often provide the impetus for selling farmland for development purposes. I welcome comments about this possible project.




International trade has long been important to California agriculture and that importance is growing. Recent domestic and international policy and market developments have created both new opportunities and new challenges for California agriculture. AIC Issues Brief Number Three documents the importance of trade to California agriculture and raises a number of trade issues facing the industry. The AIC program related to international trade cannot deal with all of the topics raised in the Brief, but we have plans to research some of the issues identified.

A substantial focus of the AIC’s upcoming international efforts will deal with the Pacific Rim. For instance, we will be looking at the growing agricultural markets of Korea and Japan and investigating how trade policy changes in those countries will affect demand for California’s imports. We are also studying the growing potential of competition from mainland China crowding out California exports to Asia. We will study factors affecting trade in high-valued processed food versus trade in bulk commodities.

The international trade program at the Center is also devoting effort toward better understanding of state trading enterprises (STEs). These government organizations established to monopolize foreign trade play an important role in global agricultural trade. STEs are expected to come under increased scrutiny under the new World Trade Organization. AIC’s work on STEs will investigate their role in Australia, Canada, and China. We will investigate both domestic and international market impacts.

Finally, applied research must begin with reliable data and trade statistics, which are notably problematic, especially at the state level. A brief article on page 5 mentions a new project initiated by the AIC and designed to improve the quality of published data on state agricultural exports. This work has a very practical objective of allowing states to more accurately gauge the value and destination of exports. It will also improve the AIC’s program on trade by developing a set of state-level trade data for California.



The AIC will co-sponsor an Executive Seminar on Agribusiness Issues at the Sacramento Hyatt on December 11, 1997. The theme of the seminar will be: “Where in the World are the Markets for California Agriculture?” Registration for the seminar will be $110. To receive registration materials, call AIC at 916-752-2320. Registration is limited to 150 participants.



With international trade increasingly important to California agriculture, AIC Issues Brief Number Three examines the role of international trade in the economic progress of California agriculture.

California is the largest agricultural exporter in the U.S. Exports are crucial to the state farm economy—one-fourth of all agricultural commodities produced here are shipped abroad, a volume of trade greater than that of such major agricultural nations as Australia and Canada. In the Pacific Rim, particularly, international market trends will be a crucial factor in the future of California agriculture.

Meanwhile, the world’s food and farm product markets are being re-shaped by income growth in third-world nations, trends toward reduced trade barriers, and globalized economic enterprises. All these create opportunities and challenges for California’s agricultural industry.

The new Center publication is International Trade and California Agriculture, AIC Issues Brief Number Three, by Colin A. Carter and Daniel A. Sumner. It integrates statistics from several sources to identify California’s most important agricultural exports, their relation to domestic markets, and recent growth rates. The authors then analyze trends in the most important foreign markets for California farm products: Japan, Canada, the European Union, South Korea, Hong Kong and China, and Mexico.

Carter and Sumner are professors in the UCD Department of Agricultural and Resouce Economics. Carter is an associate director of the Center, and Sumner is director.

Those on the mailing list for this newsletter will receive a copy of International Trade and California Agriculture. Additional copies are available from the Center. Also available are the first two in the AIC Issues Brief series: Economic Impacts of Irrigation Water Cuts in the Sacramento Valley and A Measure of Subsidy to California Agriculture.



In recent years California state agricultural export statistics have been reported based upon several different methodologies. At the request of CDFA’s Secretary Ann Veneman, the Center is initiating a new project to investigate, review and develop a consistent methodology and approach. The research will:

  1. Survey appropriate uses of state export statistics by government and the private sector.
  2. Review current and potential ways of reporting export statistics by community and location.
  3. Develop the most accurate and appropriate measurement for values of the state agricultural exports.

With the participation of agriculture departments in other states, the project will be conducted jointly with research counterparts at several land grant universities. Thus, while the analysis here focuses on California, the project will be national in scope.

We anticipate a preliminary set of results and a proposed methodology by mid-1998. We also hope to produce a prototype set of California export statistics by the summer of 1998.




In our last issue it was announced that Hal and Carol Sconyers had named the Harold O. Carter Endowment as one beneficiary of a charitable trust they established to be shared equally by four UC Davis campus programs. Their gift to the Endowment is valued at $147,500 and is a tremendous kick-off for our fund-raising effort.

Co-chairs and steering committee members are being recruited for the fund-raising campaign and the candidates are demonstrating 100% willingness to serve. Plans to honor Hal Carter and officially launch our campaign are in their early stages.

More good news on the fund-raising front: the Dean’s Office was contacted earlier this summer by a representative of the State Attorney General’s office, asking whether the college has visible programs that provide maximum benefit to agriculture in California. The AG’s office has received money from a settlement to be awarded to programs benefiting agriculture. It was suggested to them that support of the Center’s programs through the Harold O. Carter Endowment would have substantial long range benefits for California agriculture and California residents. All indications are that $20,000 is on the way!

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