Professor JunJie Wu, along with two colleagues from China, in May 2018 published "Spatial distribution of nature reserves in China: Driving forces in the past and conservation challenges in the future" in the journal Land Use Policy. The article notes that nature reserves are hubs of biodiversity conservation in China, but their spatial distributions are not in line with the priority set based on biological criteria. This supposition raises some fundamental questions: What caused this discrepancy? How was the spatial distribution of nature reserves determined in China? This paper aims to address these questions using a unique nation-wide county-level database. The results reveal that although ecological factors play a significant role in nature reserve designations, economic considerations appear to be more significant in explaining the spatial distribution of local nature reserves in China. The opportunity cost of land conservation affects both the probability of designation and the amount of land designated for nature reserves in a county, and the effects vary by region, type of nature reserves, and time period of designation. Implications of these results for new nature reserve designations and for sustainable conservation of the existing protected areas are discussed.

OSU Applied Economics faculty members Laurie HoustonSusan Capalbo, and Clark Seavert, along with their OSU colleagues Meghan Dalton, David Bryla, and Ramesh Sagili, published "Specialty fruit production in the Pacific Northwest: adaptation strategies for a changing climate" in April 2018 in the journal Climatic Change. The authors studied the impact of climate change on specialty fruit crops, which represents a substantial portion of the value of agricultural production in the Pacific Northwest. The authors conclude that climate change may threaten water sources, lengthen the dry season, raise temperatures during both the winter chilling period and the growing season, and facilitate the spread of fungal diseases and insects. Such changes have the potential to substantially reduce net returns due to increased input costs and altered yields and product quality. Many management strategies that are already being used to prolong growing seasons in marginal production areas and to improve production and quality in established production regions may also be useful as adaptation strategies under a changing climate. These strategies mostly involve moderating temperatures and controlling or compensating for mismatches between phenology and seasonal weather conditions.

Associate Professor Christian Langpap, along with a colleague from the University of Illinois, published "The Economics of Species Conservation" in April 2018 in the Annual Review of Resource Economics. In this paper, the authors review research in economics on how best to counter the global threat to species extinction (now affecting 1 in 4 species). Normative research has developed useful tools for cost-effectively choosing areas of habitat to protect, and such work has also designed working-lands contracts that can induce efficient quantities and patterns of conservation on private lands. Positive research finds evidence that payments for ecosystem service programs are effective, but legal protections for threatened species have a mixed record of success. Economists have also measured both the nonmarket benefits and the costs of species conservation. Emerging work is tackling the particular challenges to species conservation posed by climate change, the demand for exploiting charismatic megafauna, and global population growth.

 

Professor John Antle recently published "Methods to Assess Between-system Adaptations to Climate Change: Dryland Wheat Systems in the Pacific Northwest United States" in the February 2018 issue of the journal Agriculture, Ecosystems & EnvironmentIn this paper, the authors propose to extend methods for agricultural impact assessment to study the adaptations that agricultural producers are likely to consider in response to climate change such as the use of different combinations of crop or livestock species and associated changes in management. They conclude that the method used for estimating the productivity of the new system introduces an element of uncertainty into adaptation analysis, in addition to the other data, model and scenario uncertainties.

 

Assistant Professor Steven Dundas, with co-authors from North Carolina State University and RTI International, recently published a study that provides evidence on the relative economic value of efforts to balance environmental protection with recreation access to public lands. Using recreational data for Cape Hatteras National Seashore, the research shows that the costs to recreational fishing from temporally and spatially varying closures to both vehicle and pedestrian access to portions of the seashore range from $400,000 to $2 million annually. These costs are shown to be substantively lower than potential benefits of protecting nesting shorebirds (piping plovers) and sea turtles. The paper, Recreation Costs of Endangered Species Protection: Evidence from Cape Hatteras National Seashore, is in the January 2018 issue of Marine Resource Economics.  A recent news story about this paper can be found here.

 

Professor Jennifer Alix-Garcia, together with co-authors from the University of New South Wales in Australia and the World Bank, investigates the impact of refugee camps on local populations.  The work uses both nighttime lights data -- a proxy for economic activity -- and household surveys to assess whether or not Kakuma refugee camp in northern Kenya has helped or hurt the local pastoral population.  The research shows that, on average, local residents benefit from the camp. In fact, a 10% increase in the refugee population is associated with approximately a 5.5% increase in consumption of locals living near the camp.  This effects seem to be driven by increases in wage earning opportunities and the possibility of selling agricultural and livestock production to camp residents.  The work is in the January 2018 issue of the Journal of Development Economics.  Prof. Alix-Garcia recently appeared on the Voice of America radio program South Sudan in Focus to discuss this research (available here, starting at minute 12:25).

 

Professor Larry Lev and Senior Faculty Research Assistant Laurie Houston were part of a group that published a journal article in January 2018 entitled  "Beyond Fresh and Direct: Exploring the Specialty Food Industry as a Market Outlet for Small- and Medium-sized Farms" in Renewable Agriculture and Food SystemsThis study investigated the benefits, barriers, and challenges for small- and medium-sized farmers who want to sell products to specialty food manufacturers (SFMs). Their paper analyzed 240 survey responses from dairy, meat, fruit/vegetable/nuts, and grain specialty manufacturers and 60 in-depth interviews of these manufacturers and farmers in California, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Washington, and Oregon. Overall, they found evidence that the specialty food industry is an emerging market channel for small- and medium-sized farms. They also found that to be successful suppliers of SFMs, farmers need to have processes in place to ensure the quality of their products.

 

The Annual Review of Resource Economics in October 2017 published "A Conversation with Emery Neal Castle" by faculty members Emery CastleBruce WeberRichard Sandler, and JunJie Wu. Emery was Professor Emeritus at OSU in this department where he taught agricultural economics for more than twenty-five years and held numerous administrative positions including Dean of the Graduate School, Director of the Water Resources Institute, and Dean of Faculty. Sadly, Emery passed away in October 2017.

Beau Olen and JunJie Wu published a Choices article in October 2017 titled “Tracking the Evolution and Recent Development of Whole Farm Insurance Programs.” This article analyzes the development of Whole Farm Revenue Protection—WFRP—as well as outcomes in its first two years. WFRP addresses adverse selection by expanding the size and diversity of the insurance pool and serves as a complement for buy-up insurance and a substitute for disaster assistance and catastrophic risk protection. This research is supported by a joint project with UC Davis and Cornell University through a USDA NIFA funded project.

Professors Christian Langpap and JunJie Wu published an article in August 2017 entitled “Thresholds, Perverse Incentives, and Preemptive Conservation of Endangered Species” in the Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists. Implementation of the Engendered Species Act (ESA) on private land has historically focused on regulation after a species was officially listed. In recent years, it has shifted towards offering pre-listing incentives to avoid listings and the costs and conflicts resulting from regulation. In this paper, they examine these pre-listing incentives by allowing the incentive structure, perverse incentives to destroy habitat or preemptive conservation, to be endogenously determined. They found that which incentive structure emerges depends on how high the conservation threshold is and on the relative costs of habitat conservation versus habitat destruction. It is critical to distinguish between these incentive structures because a policy that works in one setting does not necessarily work in the other. Their results shed light on policy decisions in several recent high-profile ESA cases.