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Home > Feature Articles > Agriculture & Organic Production

Cost and Return studies Help Farmers Make Good Decisions

"Cost and Return" studies are valuable decision-making tools for farmers and ranchers

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carrot agricultural food organic soil conservation Total cost accounting is a growing method of determining sustainable products and how they fit into overall community health and sustainability. That sustainable accounting is increasingly being applied to agriculture, too.

"Cost and Return" studies are valuable decision-making tools the university has been providing to California farmers and ranchers for decades. These studies help growers decide what crops and production methods make financial sense for their region by comparing a commodity's potential value against:

  • production costs for seeds,
  • fertilizer,
  • pesticides,
  • water,
  • labor,
  • insurance,
  • property taxes,
  • land leases,
  • land ownership,
  • irrigation systems,
  • farm machinery,
  • office expenses
  • and other items

The studies are created by the UC Davis Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics in collaboration with county-based UC Cooperative Extension farm advisors.

The studies are available for a wide range of tree fruit and nut crops such as walnuts, pistachios, cherries and peaches; field crops like alfalfa, cotton and dry beans; vegetables like asparagus, broccoli, peppers and tomatoes; and more than a dozen different wine and table grape scenarios for different growing areas.

"The cost and return studies began in 1937 as a tool for farmers to provide basic information to justify production loans to bankers," says Karen Klonsky, the UC Davis specialist in Cooperative Extension who has overseen the studies for more than 20 years.

"In addition to growers and bankers, government agencies, researchers and others use them to compare the performance of actual operations with costs and revenues from our hypothetical farms." Studies are also available for niche specialty crops like blueberries, Chinese long beans, Christmas trees, olive oil, dairy goats, grass-fed beef and wild rice.

The full catalog of these free, downloadable documents is available on the department's Web site at

For more information, contact Karen Klonsky at (530) 752-3563,

UC Agriculture and Natural Resources programs aim to help Californians make money

The UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources serves every Californian with research on food production, nutrition, consumer sciences and youth development. Following is a sampling of efforts that have a direct impact on the money in California residents' bank accounts.

RESOURCE: UC Agriculture and Natural Resources

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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