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Economic Impacts of Yellow Starthistle on California Ranchers

Alison Eagle, Mark Eiswerth, Wayne Johnson, Steve Schoenig and Gerrit van Kooten

No 2006-01, Working Papers from University of Victoria, Department of Economics, Resource Economics and Policy Analysis Research Group

Abstract: While the significant ecosystem damage caused by invasive weeds has been well documented, the economic impacts of specific invasive weed species are poorly understood. Yellow starthistle (Centaurea solstitialis L., hereafter YST) is the most widespread non-crop weed in California, resulting in serious damage to forage on natural range and improved pasture. A survey was administered to California cattle ranchers to investigate YST infestation rates, loss of forage quantity and value, and control or eradication efforts. The results were used to estimate county-wide economic losses for three focus counties, as well as state-wide economic losses, due to YST in California. Total losses of livestock forage value due to YST on private land for the state of California are estimated at $7.96 million/year, with ranchers’ out-of-pocket expenditures on YST control amounting to $9.45 million/year. Together, these costs are the equivalent of 6-7% of the total annual harvested pasture value for the state. Therefore, while the impacts are relatively small within the statewide total agricultural production system, costs due to YST infestation significantly constrain California’s livestock grazing sector.

Keywords: nonnative species; invasive weeds; yellow starthistle; ranching profitability; forage; livestock (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: Q24 Q57 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 26 pages
Date: 2006-05
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