As USDA’s top prognosticator, CALS alum has delivered the best and worst of ag news

As the USDA’s chief economist, Joe Glauber is the USDA’s top “good news, bad news” guy, and since he took the job last year, he’s delivered plenty of both.

Glauber will be on campus Sept. 24 to speak at a symposium marking the centennial of the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics — he earned his Ph.D. from the department in 1984 — on the topic of U.S. Agriculture and Trade Policy. That should be interesting. Few of his predecessors have seen such a dramatic turnaround in agricultural trade on their watch.

In March, 2008, a few weeks after he was appointed, Glauber was quoted in a New York Times article titled A Global Need for Grain That Farms Can’t Fill. “People are trying to figure out, is this a new era?” he said in the article. “Are prices going to be high forever?”

Thirteen months later he was quoted in the same paper in an article titled Exports Fall, and It’s Felt on the Farm. “What a difference 12 months can make,” he said in that article. “We have seen prices for most commodities fall 40 to 50 percent from their midyear peaks. The global economic slump has cast a pall on most markets.” For farmers, the fallout could come in the form of a drop in net farm income of as much as 33 percent, he said at the time.

Glauber will be the featured speaker on the first day of the two-day conference, which focuses on agriculture, food and international trade.

The key speaker on the second day of the program, which is themed Development, Resources and Environment, will be David Kaimowitz, who directs the Natural Assets and Sustainability unit at the Ford Foundation and is the foundation’s natural assets Program Officer for Mexico and Central America. Kaimowitz, who earned his Ph.D. here in 1986, will speak on Natural Resources: The Crisis in Globalization and the Development Challenge.