Seth Meyer, Chief Economist
Dr. Seth Meyer was appointed USDA’s Chief Economist in January of 2021, returning to USDA after two years. Prior to his return, Seth was a Research Professor and the Associate Director for the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) at the University of Missouri. FAPRI is well known for its agricultural policy and market analysis, being called on by Congress and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for its insight into commodity production, price, farm income and trade impacts from various agricultural policies including Farm Bill proposals, trade agreements and disruptions, and crop insurance.
Dr. Meyer was previously the head of the World Agricultural Outlook Board (WAOB) in the Office of the Chief Economist (OCE), the agency at USDA charged with bringing together USDA resources in the assessment of crops around the world. The OCE also publishes those finding in the ‘WASDE’ report which is closely watched by agricultural markets here and abroad.
Previously, Dr. Meyer served as an economist with the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations and as a visiting scholar at several research institutions around the world. 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.
Cindy Nickerson, Deputy Chief Economist
In her role as Deputy Chief Economist, Dr. Nickerson advises the Chief Economist, the Secretary, and top policy officials regarding the economic implications of programs, regulations, and legislative proposals affecting the U.S. food system and rural areas.
Dr. Nickerson’s career at USDA has spanned 20 years. Prior to joining the Office of the Chief Economist, she was the Director of the Market and Trade Economics Division at USDA’s Economic Research Service and earlier served on the management team of ERS’ Resource and Rural Economics Division. In these leadership roles she oversaw and influenced research on a broad range of topics related to the agricultural economy, global markets and trade, rural economy, socially disadvantaged farmers, conservation, and resources and the environment. She served on the White House’s Council of Economic Advisers in 2013-2015, where she provided economic advice on administration initiatives and regulatory actions relating to agriculture, climate change, economic development, transportation, rural child poverty and evidence-based policymaking. She also served as CEA liaison to the White House Rural Council.
Dr. Nickerson received her Ph.D. in Agricultural and Resource Economics from the University of Maryland, an M.S. in Environmental Studies from California State University, and a B.S. in Accounting from Towson University.
Joseph Cooper, Senior Advisor
Joseph Cooper is Senior Policy Advisor to the Chief Economist, Office of the Chief Economist, United States Department of Agriculture. Joe was previously chief of the Agricultural Policy and Models Branch for the Market and Trade Economics Division of the Economic Research Service of the USDA. He has also served in other roles on the management team in the Resource and Rural Economics Division of ERS. In addition, he has been a researcher in both divisions. Joe has also served as the Senior Economist in charge of agriculture and natural resources issues on the White House's Council of Economic Advisors and has worked at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, providing FAO with economic advice on a wide range of agricultural policy issues.
Joe received Ph.D. and M.S. degrees in agricultural economics from the University of California, Davis, and a B.S. from the University of California, Berkeley.
Mark Jekanowski, Chairman of the World Agricultural Outlook Board
Dr. Mark Jekanowski is Chairman of USDA’s World Agricultural Outlook Board (WAOB), where he 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. Jekanowski also serves as Program Chairman for USDA’s largest annual meeting, the Agricultural Outlook Forum.
Dr. Jekanowski joined the WAOB in August 2018 as Deputy Chairman. Previous positions with USDA include Deputy Director for Outlook at the Economic Research Service, and Chief of the Crops Branch, also at the Economic Research Service. Prior to his service at USDA, Dr. Jekanowski was a Senior Vice President at Informa Economics, where from 2009-2011 he was also Head of the Washington, DC office. He holds Ph.D. and M.S. degrees in Agricultural Economics from Purdue University, and a B.S. in Resource Economics from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He was raised on a commercial, family-owned vegetable and tobacco farm in Hadley, Massachusetts.
Peter Feather, 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, Chief Meteorologist
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.
Linda Abbott, 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.
William Hohenstein, Director of the Office of Energy and Environmental Policy
William Hohenstein is the Director of USDA’s Office of Energy and Environmental Policy (OEEP), within the Office of the Chief Economist. OEEP serves as a focal point for the Department’s energy, environmental markets, and climate change activities.
Before working 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.
Kimberly Nesci, Director - Office of Pest Management Policy
Kimberly Nesci serves as the Director of the Office of Pest Management Policy (OPMP). In this role, she leads the development and coordination of USDA policy on pesticides, biotechnology, integrated pest management, and related topics.
Ms. Nesci joined USDA in January 2022 and brings over 25 years of experience in pesticide regulation to OPMP. Prior to her current position, Ms. Nesci most recently served as the Director of the Biological and Economic Analysis Division in EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP), where she oversaw the development of biological and economic impact analyses on the usage and benefits of pesticides to support the Federal regulatory process. During her time in OPP, Ms. Nesci led a number of high-profile policy, science, and regulatory initiatives and held multiple management positions, including Deputy Director of the Environmental Fate and Effects Division and Chief of the Microbial Pesticides Branch in the Biopesticides and Pollution Prevention Division. Prior to her career in the government, Ms. Nesci worked at a pesticide consulting firm.
Ms. Nesci earned a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science from the University of Mary Washington and a Master’s degree in Entomology from the University of Maryland, where she worked on tarnished plant bug in lima beans on the Eastern Shore and potatoes genetically engineered for resistance to the Colorado potato beetle.