UW-Madison: USDA chief economist to speak at department centennial

CONTACT: Kenneth Shapiro, 608-262-8966, [email protected]; Randy Fortenbery (Thursday program), 608-262-4908, [email protected]; Ian Coxhead (Friday program), 608-262-6390, [email protected]

MADISON – Joe Glauber is the USDA’s top “good news, bad news” guy, and since he took the job last year he’s delivered plenty of both.

As the USDA’s chief economist, Glauber is responsible for commodity situation and outlook reports that are scrutinized by agricultural producers, processors and commodity traders throughout the world.

Glauber, who will speak at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on Thursday, Sept. 24, assumed his job in February of 2008. At the time, his office was reporting the best crop prices in decades and export demand that outstripped supply. A year later, the tone of those reports had taken a 180-degree turn.

“What a difference 12 months can make,” he said last March in a New York Times article, noting that prices for most commodities had dropped 40 to 50 percent and that farm incomes could drop by as much as 33 percent.

Glauber also made news when he testified before a Senate subcommittee about the impact of using corn for ethanol production on the price of food. Bush administration economists had calculated that bioenergy production accounted for 2 to 3 percent of the rise in food prices. Glauber’s staff put the impact at closer to 10 percent.

Glauber’s talk on campus will focus on U.S. trade policy and agriculture. He will be speaking at a symposium marking the centennial of the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics. He earned his Ph.D. in agricultural economics from UW-Madison in 1984.

Also speaking at the symposium will be David Kaimowitz, a noted authority on issues related to the sustainability of natural resources in the face of globalization and international development. Kaimowitz is director of the Natural Assets and Sustainability unit at the Ford Foundation.

Glauber will speak at 8:45 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 24. Kaimowitz will speak at 8:45 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 25. The symposium takes place in the auditorium of the UW-Madison Biotechnology Center, Room 1111, 425 Henry Mall, beginning at 8:30 a.m. each day. Both talks are free and open to the public.

More information on the symposium is available at http://www.aae.wisc.edu/centennial/