The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced that University of Florida scientist Spiro Stefanou has been appointed the USDA Economic Research Service administrator. Stefanou was a professor in the UF/IFAS food and resource economics department (FRED).
Stefanou will lead research efforts at the USDA that will impact the future of agriculture in the United States through visionary direction and trend forecasting. Research funded through USDA will affect development and adoption of technology and processes to expand food production with fewer inputs.
The mission of USDA’s Economic Research Service is to anticipate trends and emerging issues in agriculture, food, the environment, and rural America and to conduct high-quality, objective economic research to inform and enhance public and private decision making.
A respected researcher and leader in the agricultural business and economics, Stefanou is well-positioned to make positive impacts on the industry well into the future, said Scott Angle, UF vice president for agriculture and natural resources and head of the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
“Dr. Stefanou is an expert in our complex modern global economy and will bring that expertise to this new assignment,” Angle said. “Dr. Stefanou will be furthering UF’s land-grant mission to use our research and knowledge to partner with federal, state and local governments to improve the lives of all residents.”
Stefanou’s research at UF/IFAS has revolved around how businesses make decisions when current decisions impact future production possibilities. A key feature of these frameworks is how businesses choose to adopt effective technologies and their capabilities to extract the maximum potential from these technologies. Stefanou’s scholarship has also addressed themes of competitiveness and growth, and related policy implications.
“Working in IFAS has been an invaluable experience, as I worked with the incredible breadth and diversity of the Florida agricultural economy,” Stefanou said. “Florida presents a wide range of perspectives in balancing land and water between agricultural and non-agricultural interests, trade challenges and extreme weather events’ impacts on the agricultural economy.”
Prior to arriving at UF in 2015, Stefanou had been a professor of agricultural economics at Penn State University since 1983. He currently holds a part-time appointment as professor in the Business Economics Group at Wageningen University in the Netherlands.
“We look forward to adding Dr. Stefanou’s more than 30 years of leadership and expertise in agricultural economics as we usher in a new era for ERS. Under his leadership, ERS will thrive as a world-class economic powerhouse and will continue to build and deliver scientifically-sound economic data and research to help shape U.S. agricultural policy and to better serve our customers and stakeholders across the nation,” said Deputy Undersecretary for Research, Education, Economics Dr. Scott Hutchins in the USDA ERS announcement.
“This is an exciting opportunity to lead the Economic Research Service as it pivots to new opportunities while meeting its mission to anticipate trends and emerging issues in agriculture, food, the environment and rural America,” Stefanou said. “ERS is internationally recognized for its high-quality, objective economic research to inform and enhance public and private decision making.”