A few examples of our work
ERA Economics is engaged in a range of projects related to the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014 (SGMA), ranging from water supply valuation for private clients to regional water risk assessments and Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) development. The ERA team is working for several GSAs to develop economic and financial analysis to ensure that the GSP meets the minimum regulatory requirements, and is ultimately approved. Draft implementation plans in some basins include water use reduction incentives, and the ERA team is working with clients to identify and evaluate least-cost solutions.
Economic analysis supports GSP development by identifying cost-effective blends of projects and management actions. Management actions could include demand management programs with incentives to reduce water use, and ERA has worked with clients to develop economic analyses to understand the costs and benefits of alternative approaches, including water markets and flexible implementation rules.
ERA's focus on projects related to sustainable groundwater management is identifying solutions that protect the value of agriculture and its contribution to the regional economy. The ERA team develops analyses that clients use to identify potential management strategies.
Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG)
Recognizing that the value of specialty crop agriculture has more than doubled over the last decade, SACOG engaged ERA Economics to develop an assessment of the economic contribution of specialty crop agriculture in the 6-county Sacramento region. The purpose of the project was two-fold: (i) to support SACOG's broader Food Hub initiative to encourage growth of the agricultural economy in the region, and (ii) to develop analytical tools for SACOG and other policy makers to support current and future policy studies/initiatives. ERA worked with SACOG and industry representatives to develop an analysis of the economic value of agriculture, from field to retail.
ERA developed a three-part work plan to evaluate and quantify the farm-gate value of specialty crop agriculture using calibrated economic models, refine existing regional "input/output" (multiplier) models to more accurately reflect specialty crop value in the Sacramento region, and apply that toolkit to establish the economic contribution of agriculture to the Sacramento economy.
A key component of this project was working with growers and local agribusinesses to gather financial data to develop a customized multiplier model with industry sectors for the specialty crop economic cluster. Industry accounts were updated with survey data and supplemental information to more accurate represent farm expenditures, employment, and contribution to economic activity in the greater Sacramento area. The ERA team also developed a calibrated regional economic model that was formally linked to the multiplier model and used to quantify the farm-value of production,
ERA applied the modeling framework to evaluate the impacts of changes in the specialty crop agriculture sector on other sectors of the economy (farm input purchases, distribution, transportation, and retail). ERA quantified the economic contribution in terms of jobs, value-added, and regional tax base. The final report shows that agriculture contributes over $2.5 billion annually to the regional economy, supporting over 31,000 jobs.
United States Bureau of Reclamation
California Department of Water Resources
As a subcontractor to CDM Smith, the US Bureau of Reclamation and California Department of Water Resources engaged ERA Economics to evaluate the potential economic impacts to Yolo Bypass agriculture as a result of extending the frequency and duration of inundation events to support potential fish habitat benefits. The economic analysis involved a complicated linkage to crop agronomic (yield) models, hydrodynamic model outputs, and geospatial representation of Yolo Bypass cropping decisions.
ERA applied a calibrated economic model of Yolo Bypass agriculture to assess the effects of additional flooding on planting times, crop yields, and resulting agricultural revenues. The analysis was developed at a regional level of detail to support the EIR/S. ERA applied a series of pre- and post-processing routines to the economic model and underlying data to adhere to federal (NED) guidelines for economic evaluation of water supply projects.
The project involved stakeholder engagement to review data and production practices in the bypass, as well as technical coordination across a range of technical experts to link the economic framework to related technical analyses. The technical efforts of the project spanned 5 years, from initial draft analyses to technical review and publication of documents.
The ERA team presented draft and final results at a series of technical meetings, stakeholder meetings, and public meetings over the project timeline. The economic modeling framework was reviewed, along with other models applied for the project, in a public Scientific Review Panel convened by the Delta Stewardship Council in the fall of 2017. The economic analysis was favorably reviewed as part of the final report issued by the panel of technical experts and reviewers.
California Department of Food and Agriculture
ERA Economics and a team of technical experts at CH2M Hill and UC Davis were engaged by CDFA to evaluate the economic impacts of the 2014 - 2016 droughts on California agriculture. ERA developed and applied a series of economic models that were used to quantify the effect of reduced water supplies on agricultural production, the value of the industry, and regional economic impacts in terms of jobs and value-added. ERA was responsible for technical model development, outreach, and analysis of water supply impacts. The projects spanned a total of 3 years and included outreach across various agencies, including the Governor's Drought Task Force
The project included extensive public outreach. ERA experts participated in a range of industry panels, media events, and public presentations to convey the results of the analysis to industry and policy makers. The project reports were published in peer-reviewed outlets and as policy publications. ERA presented the results to news radio and television, ultimately meeting with lawmakers in Washington DC to review the study, economic costs, and potential solutions.