Technical Approach

We value excellence and delivering the highest-value product for our clients. That’s why we prioritize a deep understanding of our clients’ objectives, and unmatched technical chops.

Our technical approach starts with expert listening. We work hard to understand all aspects of our client’s objectives: target audience, pain points, and broader goals. Working closely with our clients, we tailor the project scope to fit their needs.

We then apply rigorous economic modeling that integrates physical, biological, and geospatial data. Our integrated economic modeling approach allows us to clearly measure outcomes, from the field to the regional economy. No matter how complicated the underlying economic analysis, our results are always explained in a simple, intuitive way.

Select modeling capabilities

Water Risk and Climate Risk Indices

Leveraging geospatial (GIS) and market data with biophysical and economic models, we develop indices that help clients understand the magnitude of water and climate risks affecting their agricultural assets.

SWAP Model

The Statewide Agricultural Production model (SWAP-RTS) simulates California agricultural output by analyzing water supplies and market conditions, helping stakeholders understand economic forces and policy conditions in a $47 billion industry.


In contrast to a trend analysis of crop prices, econometric models can quantify the effect of specific structural market changes, such as trade agreements or the value of the U.S. dollar, on expected crop returns.

Commodity market models

Our crop-specific market models evaluate the effect of shocks to the agricultural economy, considering both domestic and export markets. Examples include the effect of tariffs, growth in consumer demand in export countries, or competition from producers in other regions.

Farm financials

We develop farm financial models to quantify financial impacts, regulatory costs, and return on investment. Examples include evaluating the cost of new laws or court decisions, and the ultimate impact on farm profitability.

Economic multiplier models

We link our modeling framework to the broader economy through input-output models, enabling us to clearly illustrate the relationship between agricultural production and measures of economic activity including employment, incomes, and the regional tax base.

Selected professional papers

Hydrologic-Economic Trade-offs in Groundwater Allocation Policy Design

Richael Young, Timothy Foster, Taro Mieno, Albert Valocchi, Nicholas Brozović. (2021). Water Resources Research, 57, e2020WR027941.

How are western water districts managing groundwater basins?

Claire Newman, Richard Howitt; Duncan MacEwan California Agriculture. 72(1):28-37. (2018).

Optimal Allocation of Groundwater Resources: Managing Water Quantity and Quality

Huang, Q., S. Rozelle, R. Howitt, and J. Wilen. Optimal Allocation of Groundwater Resources: Managing Water Quantity and Quality. Chapter in: Applied Methods for Agricultural and Natural Resource Management. S. Msangi and D. MacEwan, eds. (2019).

Hydroeconomic Modeling of Sustainable Groundwater Management

Duncan MacEwan, M. Cayr, A. Taghavi, D. Mitchell, Steve Hatchett, Richard Howitt

Water Resources Research. 53. (2017).

Combining Physical and Behavioral Response to Salinity

Duncan MacEwan, Richard Howitt, and Josué Medellín-Azuara

Journal of Water Economics and Policy. 2 (1), 1-25. (2016).

Economic Impacts of the 2015 Drought on Farm Revenue and Employment

Richard E. Howitt, Duncan MacEwan, Josue Medellin-Azuara, Jay Lund, Dan Sumner.

Agricultural and Resource Economics Update. Giannini Foundation of Agricultural Economics. (2015).

Routledge Handbook of Water Economics and Institutions

K. Burnett, Richard Howitt, J. Roumasset, C. Wada (Editors)

Routledge Handbooks, New York. (2015).

Are Water Markets Still Emerging in California?

Richard Howitt

Chapter in: Water Markets for the 21st Century: What Have We Learned? (2014).

Calibrating Disaggregate Economic Models of Agricultural Production and Water Management

Richard E. Howitt, Josue Medellin-Azuara, Duncan MacEwan, and Jay R. Lund

Environmental Modeling and Software. 38, 244-258. (2012).

Selected reports and conference presentations

Agricultural Water Risk in the West: Current Trends and Outlook

Duncan MacEwan and Richael Young. Presentation to the Boards of Directors of Farm Credit West and Northwest Credit Services. Denver, Colorado. (2021).

Cannabis Cultivation Regulations Standardized Regulatory Impact Assessment (SRIA)

Duncan MacEwan, Claire Newman, Jay Noel, Richard Howitt, Miranda Driver

CA Dept of Food and Agriculture. CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing. Rulemaking Economic Impact Analysis. (2018).

Hydroeconomic Modeling and GSP Development

Steve Hatchett and Duncan MacEwan

Presented at the 2018 Western Groundwater Conference of the Groundwater Resources Association. Sacramento, CA. (2018).


Duncan MacEwan and Richard Howitt

Presented at the California Water and Environmental Modeling Forum. Annual Meeting. (2017).

California Agriculture Regulatory Impact Analysis

Duncan MacEwan, Jay Noel, Richard Howitt, Lynn Hamilton, Mike McCullough, Jennifer Scheer

Presented at the 2016 American Agricultural Economics Association Annual Meeting. (2016).

Economic Value of Specialty Crop Agriculture in the Sacramento Region

Duncan MacEwan, Jay Noel, Richard Howitt, Kabir Tumber, Jennifer Scheer

Prepared for Sacramento Area Council of Governments. (2016).

Transitioning to Sustainable Groundwater Management

Duncan MacEwan, Steve Hatchett, Richard Howitt, Ali Taghavi, Mesut Cayar, David Mitchell

Prepared for California Water Foundation. (2015).

Economic Contribution of Agriculture to Santa Clara County

Duncan MacEwan, Jay Noel, Richard Howitt, Kabir Tumber, Jennifer Scheer

Prepared for Santa Clara County Agricultural Commissioner Office. (2015).

Team Perspectives

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