Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Climate change, land use, WIC, spillover effect

Major Advisor

Farhed A. Shah

Co-Major Advisor

Jennifer L. Harris

Associate Advisor

Tatiana Andreyeva

Associate Advisor

Charles Towe

Field of Study

Agricultural and Resource Economics


Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Campus Access


This dissertation consists of three essays regarding two different topics in agricultural economics. In the first two studies, a two-part exercise on adapting land-use decisions to climate change conditions is conducted using economic models. In the last study, the impacts of a federal assistance program on the food industry are examined using a quasi-experimental design.

In Chapter 1, we project and discuss land conversion to agricultural and non-agricultural uses in the state of California, which faces significant challenges associated with climate change and availability of water resources. To carry out our analysis, we adapt and estimate a supply and demand model, accounting for climate, water use, and urbanization pressures. Using climate projections from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), we simulate expected changes in land allocation under alternative climate conditions. The change in total farmland under future climate conditions varies between -14% and 14%, depending on the IPCC model and emission scenario used, though the overall average is a decline of 5% by 2099.

Chapter 2 narrows our research focus to agricultural product allocation within land devoted to agriculture. A system of land demand equations is estimated to examine a given farmer’s decision to allocate land to major agricultural products in California, limiting attention to the top three cash making operations, namely pasture (dairy products, cattle and calves), grapes, and almonds. Next, simulations meant to predict the effect of climate change on farmland allocation among products are conducted. For each climate scenario, the corresponding predicted results for total agricultural land use from Chapter 1 are employed. On the whole, we find that pasture land share decreases substantially, almond land share declines by a much smaller margin, and there is no uniform trend for grapes. However, the magnitude of potential adaptation is dependent on the climate model and emission scenario under consideration.

In Chapter 3, we investigate the US Special Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)’s spillover effect. WIC provides infant formula to participating low-income families with children under 12 months of age. Using difference-in-differences (DID) models, this study examines how changing a state’s WIC infant formula contract manufacturer affected the volume sales of the new and former contract brands, including spillover effects on sales of infant formula not eligible for WIC and toddler milks. We find that one year following a contract change, the average volume sales of WIC-eligible infant formula for the new contract brand dramatically increased, while sales decreased for the former brand. The average sales of non-WIC-eligible infant formula and toddler milk products for the new WIC brand also increased after the change.