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Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics


Joseph Shultz, Chief Economist for the U.S. Senate Ag Committee, Briefs AEDE on the Status of the Current Farm Bill Debate

March 5, 2013

On Friday, March 1st, Joseph Shultz, Chief Economist for the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry gave a special briefing to AEDE faculty and students on the status of the farm bill debate in Washington D.C. Shultz was in Columbus to receive a Young Professional Achievement Award from the Alumni Society of the Ohio State College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) at an event scheduled for March 2nd.

The farm bill is the U.S. government’s primary agricultural and food policy tool. It is a comprehensive piece of legislation that is renewed every five years or so. In the 2008 version, the farm bill covered a broad range of issues – ranging from support for federal crop insurance to the promotion of local farmers markets to incentives for the development of bio-based energy. In May 2012, Congress took up discussion of a 2012 farm bill, which passed in the Senate, but not in the House, causing the 2008 farm bill to be extended to allow for the passage of a 2013 bill.

In his briefing, Shultz updated attendees on the current debate surrounding the farm bill, focusing on topics such as the role of crop insurance, conservation, and the impact of the federal budget debate on the 2013 bill.

Shultz told the crowd that he loves his job as Chief Economist for the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee as he greatly enjoys being a link between the academic world and policymakers in Washington. In his position Shultz works extensively with the academic community in the analysis and development of U.S. farm, food and energy policies. In particular, he often translates new research to concrete policy prescriptions.

Shultz noted that the role of the academic community in formulating the nation’s agricultural policy is great. “We want to engage with the academic community” Shultz told the crowd. He reflected on the fact that the agricultural research conducted by the academic community is vital to an informed farm bill policy discussion in Washington. He asked faculty to keep him informed of their new research and to keep staff on Capitol Hill updated when faculty will be in Washington so briefing meetings can be set up to update policymakers on the latest developments in the field.

Additionally, Shultz highlighted the great need for economists in Washington D.C.; in particular, he noted that economists are needed to conduct applied analysis in a wealth of policy arenas. Shultz put out a call to faculty and students in the room noting that Washington needs more students studying economics who want to spend time in the city in internships and jobs to get practical experience in the field.  “You can make a difference when you go to Washington, you can be part of the process” Shultz told the crowd.

Through the CFAES Alumni Society Young Professional Achievement Award, Shultz was recognized for his early professional accomplishments. Shultz received his BS in Agribusiness and Applied Economics from AEDE in 2003. He has worked on agricultural, energy and environmental policy in Washington D.C. since 2005. In his role as Chief Economist for the Senate Agriculture Committee, Shultz was a principle architect of the reforms in the Senate farm bill of 2012; he also serves as the lead policy staffer for the Committee for all issues related to the federal budget, crop insurance, and disaster assistance policies. Prior to joining the Senate Agriculture Committee, Shultz worked for Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio where he served as the Senator’s primary advisor on legislative issues related to agriculture, energy, and the environment. Shultz was raised on a fourth generation family farm near DeGraff, Ohio in Logan County. 

March 5, 2013