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Office of the Chief Economist Contributes to Creating Better Markets, Addressing Climate Change, and Advancing USDA Goals

WASHINGTON, January 21, 2022 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of the Chief Economist (OCE) today highlighted some of the office’s key accomplishments in 2021 that support creating better markets and expanding climate-smart agriculture.

“Over the past year, our staff provided economic expertise, timely analyses, and coordination for several key activities and initiatives ranging from economic intelligence and commodity outlook forecasting to climate change adaptation strategies and pest management policy,” said USDA Chief Economist Seth Meyer.

Creating Better Markets

OCE’s World Agricultural Outlook Board (WAOB) informed markets and policy makers through the monthly World Agricultural Supply and Demand (WASDE) report, a Principal Federal Economic Indicator report that provides USDA’s official world and U.S. supply and utilization estimates and forecasts for grains, oilseeds, and cotton; and official estimates and forecasts for U.S. sugar, red meat, poultry, eggs, and milk. OCE also released USDA’s Agricultural Projections to 2031, which is a critical tool for USDA budget and program planning that also provides agricultural stakeholders with a comprehensive, long-term assessment of the commodity supply and demand outlook.

OCE is the source of USDA’s agricultural weather expertise. Its meteorologists monitor and forecast weather conditions worldwide to support the WASDE commodity production forecasts. They also publish the Daily U.S. Weather Highlights report and the Weekly Weather and Crop Bulletin, and contribute expertise and authorship to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

OCE organized the 97th Agricultural Outlook Forum, USDA’s largest and premier annual event, which was held virtually for the first time and attracted nearly 4,500 participants from the United States and around the world.

Addressing Climate Change via Climate Smart Agriculture, Forestry and Energy

In 2021, OCE’s Office of Energy and Environmental Policy (OEEP) developed several initiatives to prioritize climate action at USDA and increase resilience to climate impacts in agriculture. These include a USDA-wide climate strategy in response to Executive Order 14008, Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad. OEEP also oversaw the development of USDA’s Action Plan for Climate Adaptation and Resilience (PDF, 813 KB), which identified the most significant risks climate change poses to the agriculture and forestry sectors and laid out Department-scale actions to best prepare our stakeholders to address current and future climate change threats.

The office also helped launch a new USDA Climate-Smart Partnership Initiative to expand the deployment of climate-smart farming and forestry practices to help market climate-smart agricultural commodities. To improve tracking of progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the agriculture and forest sectors, OEEP established a new Greenhouse Gas Inventory and Assessment Program, which will enhance quantification systems for greenhouse gases, including assessing current conservation data availability. On the international front, OEEP prepared the economic analysis and projections of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and sinks for the agriculture and forest sectors used in setting the U.S. commitment under the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

OCE also manages USDA’s Food Loss and Waste Initiative to bring attention to greenhouse gas emissions from the production and landfilling of uneaten food.

Supporting USDA’s Agricultural Policy Development and Disaster Responses

OCE’s Immediate Office provided significant rapid-response economic analyses and assessments of USDA policy proposals and regulatory actions to help stabilize the agricultural and rural sectors during the COVID-19 pandemic. The office also gave USDA leadership and Congress economic analysis on disasters, including winter freezes, hurricanes, and California’s emergency curtailment measures to address acute water shortages.

Sustainable Development Activities

OCE also helped develop the U.S. Government’s position for the United Nations Food Systems Summit held in September 2021. It also supported the formation of a Coalition of Action on Sustainable Productivity Growth for Food Security and Resource Conservation (SPG Coalition) to accelerate the transition to more sustainable food systems through productivity growth that optimizes agricultural sustainability across social, economic, and environmental dimensions.

Improving Regulatory Analysis

OCE’s Office of Risk Analysis and Cost Benefit Analysis helped to ensure that proposed USDA regulations are based on sound scientific and economic analysis. In 2021, the office reviewed regulations for USDA and other federal agencies, held risk analysis capacity building seminars, and engaged with risk assessors across the Department.

Contributing to Food Safety Through Effective Pesticide Management

In 2021, OCE’s Office of Pest Management Policy (OPMP) reviewed 180 pesticide risk assessments and regulatory decisions, working closely with producers and the EPA to ensure the availability of safe and effective crop protection tools. OCE also launched a multiple crop and pesticide usage survey to gather data that will be used to inform EPA assessments.

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy, and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit