USDA Economist Group 2021 Awards

John E. Lee Award for Sustained Excellence in Group Economic Analysis


ERS Food Prices and Spending Team

Patrick McLaughlin (lead), Carolyn Chelius, Xiao Dong, Matthew MacLachlan, Keenan Marchesi, Wilson Sinclair, Alexander Stevens, and Eliana Zeballos


For the ERS Food Spending and Prices Team's outstanding efforts in providing timely monitoring and synthesis of information related to food inflation for policy makers and the public. The team worked tirelessly to provide a broad suite of both internal and public products beginning early in the Coronavirus pandemic and continuing steadily throughout 2020 and 2021. These products included: weekly reports on food retail sales, food service transactions, and food prices for policy makers; a regularly updated data product of detailed data on food sales for researchers and the public; monthly food price forecasts; and published research on the decomposition of food spending patterns. High ranking policy makers as well as the public heavily relied on this essential information to follow the complex dynamics of food inflation.


Fred Woods Award for Excellence in Public Policy Research and Education

Fred Gale, Economics Research Service


Fred Gale published research, briefed USDA leaders and industry groups, and contributed to interagency assessments of policies and market conditions to gain insight about real-time changes in opportunities and barriers in exporting to China. A diverse body of Gale’s work included studies of the global soybean market, China’s wheat demand, China’s refusals of food imports, speeches to the USDA Agricultural Outlook Forum, briefings on the ASF epidemic, COVID-19 impacts on China’s economy, and a special article on China’s demand for corn imports. Fred created ERS’ highly respected China analysis program that is coveted by policy makers.


Bruce Gardner Visiting Economist Award

Dawn Thilmany McFadden, Colorado State University


For invaluable contributions to USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service and Economic Research Service in developing innovative methods that measure the economic impacts of local food systems, the business dynamics of food manufacturing businesses, and retail meat pricing and animal health. Dr. Thilmany also provided critical service to USDA by serving on the NAREE Advisory Board, serving as the interim organic program leader for NIFA, and leading NIFA AFRI grant review panels.


Economist of the Year Award

Elise Golan, Office of the Chief Economist


Dr. Elise Golan contributed significantly to identifying challenges, solutions, and actionable policies for building more sustainable food systems. Her leadership proved instrumental in complex negotiations on transforming global food systems in the UN Food Systems Summit and in USDA's effort to promote agricultural productivity growth for meeting global food needs, alleviating poverty and shrinking agriculture's environmental impact. Dr. Golan effectively framed the myriad of issues surrounding sustainable food systems in a holistic and consistent economic framework, with significant and lasting domestic and international impacts.