CFAES Give Today

Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics


John Newton selected for CFAES Distinguished Alumni Award

Feb. 26, 2021

Since earning his doctoral degree from the CFAES Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Developmental Economics in 2013, few economists have been as involved in analyzing, shaping, and educating about the U.S. Farm Bill as has John Newton. During the negotiations of the 2014 Farm Bill and conference hearings, Newton worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Chief Economist by performing quantitative policy research and providing expert advice to the chief economist, the deputy chief economist, and other top USDA and congressional officials.

Newton has been selected for a 2021 CFAES Distinguished Alumni Award and will be honored, along with 12 other various award winners, next Thursday, March 4 at 7:00pm EST via YouTube Premier

The Distinguished Alumni Award gives public recognition to those who have brought distinction to themselves and the college at large through their participation, commitment, and leadership.

Newton's experience in the economic realm is robust. He also served as a research fellow for the Senate Agricultural Committee, where he reviewed Senate and House agricultural and nutritional bills (Agricultural Act of 2014) and analyzed the effects of proposed legislation on farm income, crop returns, the rural economy, and USDA budget expenditures. His efforts have been credited as being crucial to helping improve this fundamental guiding legislation and helping farmers understand and respond to the legislation. 

Newton earned his bachelor of science degree in business economics from the University of Louisville in 2004 and then went on to work with the USDA until 2014. He then worked as a Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois, where he designed and coordinated a multi-university effort on a $1.65 million-dollar web-based decision support tool and educational curriculum as part of the implementation of the 2014 Farm Bill. He also served as a contributor to the University's site. 

He then went on to serve as the chief economist for the National Milk Producers Federation(NMPF) for a year in 2015-2016, where he developed engagement strategies for congressional, government, and industry stakeholders to communicate and implement NMPF policy in areas related to the farm economy, risk management, agricultural trade, and nutrition programs.

Now, in his current role as the chief economist for the American Farm Bureau Federation­(AFBF)-­–an independent, non-governmental, voluntary organization representing 6 million farm and ranch members nationwide­–Newton engages with congressional, government and industry stakeholders to communicate and implement AFBF policy related to the farm economy, agricultural trade, renewable energy, farm policy, crop insurance, conservation, and sustainability programs.

Newton has also served on numerous committees, including the Agricultural Trade Advisory Committee for Trade in Animals and Animal Products; the Advisory Committee on Agriculture Statistics; the Council on Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics; the Robert H. McKinney School of Law and Purdue University College of Agriculture Joint Ag Law Program Steering Committee; and the American Farm Bureau Insurance Services, Inc. Advisory Committee.

In his own words, Newton’s most significant contribution to the agriculture industry has been, “Leveraging a deep understanding of commodity markets, farm policy and risk management strategies to partner with affiliated insurance companies to design and develop an innovative new agricultural insurance product for the U.S. dairy industry. The product and rating methodology was approved by the USDA’s Federal Crop Insurance Corporation for delivery in 2018 and total sales have exceeded $400 million in less than two years.”