Dr. Robert Johansson serves as the Chief Economist at the Department of Agriculture (USDA). He has served in this role since July 2015. As Chief Economist, he is responsible for the Department's agricultural forecasts and projections and for advising the Secretary of Agriculture on economic implications of alternative programs, regulations, and legislative proposals. He is responsible for the Office of the Chief Economist, the World Agricultural Outlook Board, the Office of Risk Assessment and Cost-Benefit analysis, the Climate Change Program Office, the Office of Environmental Markets, the Office of Energy Policy and New Uses, and the Office of Pesticide Management Policy.
Dr. Johansson received B.A. in economics from Northwestern University and then served with the U.S. Peace Corps as an extension agent in several African countries from 1990 to 1995. After returning to his home State of Minnesota, he entered the graduate program in Agricultural Economics at the University of Minnesota at received his M.S. in 1997 and Ph.D. in 2000. His research has spanned a wide range of issues, including biofuels policy, water quality and quantity policies, regulatory economics, food security, and regional modeling of agricultural systems.
Deputy Chief Economist
Dr. Warren Preston serves as Deputy Chief Economist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), advising the Chief Economist, the Secretary of Agriculture, and top policy officials on the economic implications of policies, programs, and legislative proposals affecting the U.S. food and fiber system and rural areas. He supports USDA policy decision making by evaluating policy options on complex domestic and global agricultural issues. After serving as USDA's Acting Deputy Chief Economist beginning in February 2015, Dr. Preston transferred permanently to the Office of the Chief Economist as senior economist for agricultural policy in August 2015.
Prior to joining the Office of the Chief Economist, Dr. Preston served as an economist and associate deputy administrator, analyzing and overseeing programs and policies across the full spectrum of marketing activities administered by the Livestock, Poultry, and Seed Program of USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service. From 1992 to 2001, he worked as an economist and branch chief in the Packers and Stockyards Programs of USDA's Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration, playing a key role in integrating economic analysis into investigative procedures and processes. From 1986 to 1992, he held a research and teaching position as an assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics at Virginia Tech, focusing on agricultural marketing and the interface between public policies and food system performance.
Dr. Preston earned his bachelor’s degree in dairy science from The Ohio State University and his master’s and doctoral degrees in agricultural economics from Purdue University.
Chairman of the World Agricultural Outlook Board
Dr. Seth Meyer serves as the World Agricultural Outlook Board (WAOB) Chairman. Dr. Meyer is responsible for the monthly forecasts of the World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report and the work of the Joint Agricultural Weather Facility.” Dr. Meyer will also serve as Program Chairman for USDA’s largest annual meeting, the Agricultural Outlook Forum.
Dr. Meyer joined USDA’s Office of the Chief Economist in 2013 as a Senior Economist for domestic agricultural policy. Prior to joining USDA, Dr. Meyer spent the previous 2 years as a part of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN) in the Global Perspectives Studies Unit, examining the long-term determinants of agriculture demand and the allocation of productive resources to meet that growing demand.
Dr. Meyer also spent 12 years as a researcher and faculty member with the University of Missouri’s Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI), analyzing policies affecting grain and oilseed markets, cotton, biofuels, and agricultural commodity transportation. Meyer has authored numerous publications on these subjects, including several examining U.S. biofuel policy, and has spent time as an invited researcher at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines; the Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences (JIRCAS) in Tsukuba, Japan; and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (UN-FAO) in Rome, Italy. Dr. Meyer grew up in eastern Iowa and has a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree from Iowa State University and a Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics from the University of Missouri.
Agricultural Labor Affairs Coordinator
Peter Feather serves as the Agricultural Labor Affairs Coordinator in the Office of the Chief Economist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). He is responsible for analyzing the Department's various policies and activities that relate to agricultural labor, and he represents the USDA on immigration issues.
Dr. Feather has held this position since June, 2009. Prior to that, he held positions as the Fuel Economy Division Chief at the Department of Transportation, Senior Economist at the President's Council of Economic Advisers and Economist at the USDA Economic Research Service.
Dr. Feather received his Ph.D. in agricultural economics from the University of Minnesota in 1992. He also holds BS and MS degrees in agricultural economics from the University of Missouri.
Elise H. Golan
Director for Sustainable Development
Elise H. Golan is the Director for Sustainable Development for USDA. In this role, she provides leadership in planning, coordinating, and analyzing the Department's various policies, programs and activities that impact and relate to sustainable agricultural, natural resource, and community development including food security.
Prior to this position, Elise served as the Associate Director of the Food Economics Division at the Economic Research Service, USDA. She received her Ph.D. in agricultural economics from the University of California at Berkeley and completed a post-doctorate fellowship focusing on environmental economics at the University of Haifa, Israel. Before joining USDA, Elise did consulting work for, among others, the World Bank, the International Labour Organization, and the California Department of Finance. She served as a senior staff economist on the President’s Council of Economic Advisers from 1998-99.
Dr. Golan’s research has spanned a wide range of sustainability issues, including land tenure and sustainable land management in the Sahel and West Africa; rice-straw burning and sustainable land management in California; regional and U.S. food-system modeling; food labeling and market development; food access, affordability, and security; and the distributional consequences of food policy.
Mark Brusberg serves as the Chief Meteorologist of USDA’s agricultural weather and assessments group, a component of the World Agricultural Outlook Board. In this capacity, Mr. Brusberg helps to coordinate the activities of USDA agencies responsible for weather- and climate-related issues and serves as a liaison with other organizations having similar interests, notably the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
He is a leading figure in the Department’s drought assessment and mitigation activities, and has worked toward improving the performance of the U.S. Drought Monitor through a strong partnership with the National Drought Mitigation Center. He serves on the Executive Council of the NOAA-led National Integrated Drought Information System and also serves in a leadership capacity with the National Drought Resilience Partnership, a multi-agency advisory group supporting the Executive Office of the President. Additionally, he is a lead representative to the Office of the Federal Coordinator for Meteorological Support and Services. He is a recognized international expert in agricultural meteorology; as such, he is the International Editor of the Weekly Weather and Crop Bulletin and an author of the North American Drought Monitor.
Prior to his service at USDA, Mr. Brusberg briefly worked for Climate Prediction Center and Techniques Development Laboratory of NOAA’s National Weather Service. Mr. Brusberg holds a Master’s Degree in Meteorology (1987) and a Bachelor’s Degree in Physical Sciences (1985) from the University of Maryland.
Director, Office of Risk Assessment and Cost-Benefit Analysis
Linda Abbott serves as the Director of the Office of Risk Assessment and Cost-Benefit Analysis (ORACBA). In this role she coordinates the review of regulatory risk assessments and cost-benefit analyses for major USDA proposed rules affecting the environment, human health or human safety.
Prior to this position she served as a senior risk assessor on the ORACBA staff. While at ORACBA, she was also detailed to the USDA Office of Pest Management Policy to evaluate risk models used to assess human health exposure and ecological risk. She began her USDA career as an ecologist at the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service where she developed risk assessments and environmental assessments required under the National Environmental Policy Act. Dr. Abbott received her Ph.D. in biology-ecology from Utah State University, M.S.in environmental biology from George Mason University, a B.S. in biology from Florida Southern College and a J.D. from George Mason University School of Law.
Director, Climate Change Program Office
Acting Director, Office of Environmental Markets
Acting Director, Office of Energy Policy and New Uses
William Hohenstein is the Director of USDA’s Climate Change Program Office, within the Office of the Chief Economist. The Climate Change Program Office provides coordination and policy development support for the Department’s climate change program. It serves as the focal point for the Secretary of Agriculture on the causes and consequences of climate change, as well as strategies for addressing them.
Mr. Hohenstein is also currently serving as the Acting Director of the USDA Office of Environmental Markets and the Acting Director of the Office of Energy Policy and New Uses, which are also within the Office of the Chief Economist. The Office of Environmental Markets (OEM) was established to facilitate the participation of farmers, ranchers, and forest land owners in emerging environmental markets. The Office of Energy Policy and New Uses (OEPNU) analyzes and evaluates existing and proposed energy policies and strategies and reviews Departmental energy and energy related programs.
Before arriving at USDA, Mr. Hohenstein served as a Division Director in EPA’s National Center for Environmental Economics. Prior to that, Mr. Hohenstein served in the Climate Change Division of EPA’s Office of Policy Planning and Evaluation. He represents the United States at international climate change negotiations and has served as a U.S. representative to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Mr. Hohenstein has a B.S. in Natural Resource Management from Cook College, Rutgers University and a M.E.M. in Resource Economics and Policy from Duke University’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.
Sheryl H. Kunickis
Director, Office of Pest Management Policy
Dr. Sheryl H. Kunickis is Director of the USDA Office of Pest Management Policy (OPMP). She has served in this position since May 2010. She represents USDA’s interests in the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) related matters and is the USDA representative on the Pesticide Program Dialogue Committee (PPDC), an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Federal Advisory Committee. In 2013, she briefly served as Acting Director in the Office of the Chief Scientist, and from 2008 to 2010, she was Director of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Remote Sensing Laboratories (RSLs). In August 2010, she received a USDA Honor Award for Management Excellence. Prior to assuming leadership for the RSLs, she served a one-year detail at the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) as the Deputy Assistant Director for Agriculture, Lands, and Wildlife. In 2003-2004, she was selected as a Department of Commerce Science and Technology Fellow.
Dr. Kunickis received her Ph.D. in Soil Science from North Carolina State University. Her M.S. and B.S. degrees in Agronomy were earned at Brigham Young University.