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President’s Column

December 2019

In my last newsletter I spoke of the National Association of Agricultural Economics Administrators (NAAEA) meeting in Washington, DC organized by the Council on Food and Agricultural, and Resource Economics (C-FARE). I applaud the leadership of NAAEA and C-FARE for the opportunity to participate and see the engagement of that meeting. My sense is our story was told well and we gained useful information for our academic departments.

Shortly after the NAAEA Meeting, long term C-FARE Executive Director and AAEA Government Relations Director Caron Gala accepted a position with the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities. Caron has been a tireless advocate for our profession during difficult times and we wish her the best in her new role. The Board is developing a plan to move forward in 2020.

As an ERS employee years ago, I became aware of the Office of Chief Economist’s USDA Ag Outlook Forum. This Year’s event will take place February 20-21.  This is an event that offers cutting edge topics and great opportunities for faculty and students to engage with government and industry economists. I encourage you to check it out.  For more information see

Finally, some of the AAEA leadership visited with USDA ERS Acting Administrator Marca Weinberg recently about how the profession can help resupply the agency with staff. In particular, the agency needs mid-level and higher managers. I offered to share some bullets regarding management opportunities at ERS.  Space will not allow for all the information Marca shared, but here are some key points for your consideration.

The mission of USDA's Economic Research Service is to anticipate trends and emerging issues in agriculture, food, the environment, and rural development; and to conduct high-quality, objective, economic research to inform and enhance public and private decision making.

ERS positions hold particular appeal for mid to late-career professionals. These managerial positions offer the opportunity to provide intellectual leadership that is deep and broad. Experienced researchers bring the hard-won insights of an expert, gained through conducting their own research across several years.

People in high-level ERS positions have a rare opportunity: the opportunity to regularly engage with decision makers and to use those insights to shape a high quality research program. ERS mid-level positions also have an impact on a personal level. They support younger researchers at ERS who benefit from the guidance of seasoned veterans.

Federal life and health insurance benefits and flexible spending account options often exceed those offered by states and private industry. Flexible schedules and teleworking opportunities allow you to maintain a work-life balance. You also get 401(k)-like retirement benefits that will transfer throughout your career.

Visit the ERS Careers page to learn more and see current vacancies.

See you in San Diego at the ASSA Annual Meeting!   

Keith Coble
AAEA President