House Committee on Agriculture
Craig Jagger is in his twenty-sixth year of working as an agricultural economist in Washington and his eleventh year of working for the House Committee on Agriculture. From February 2001 to January 2011, he served as the Committee’s Chief Economist for three successive chairmen: Republican Chairmen Larry Combest and Bob Goodlatte and Democratic Chairman Collin Peterson. He currently is the Minority Economist for Democratic Ranking Member Collin Peterson. In addition to the Ag Committee, Craig also has worked for the Congressional Budget Office, USDA-Farm Service Agency, the U.S. Government Accountability Office, and USDA-Economic Research Service.
Craig’s work can be characterized as very applied economics. During his career, he has helped analyze, write, and/or implement four farm bills, four budget reconciliation bills, and two crop insurance bills, among other legislation.
His work as an economist for the House Ag Committee involves three primary areas: policies affecting agriculture, current market conditions, and budget issues and strategy. Of the three, Craig spends the majority of his time on budget issues and strategy (which is also the main area where he produces original information and analysis).
He notes, “There are a number of excellent sources who regularly publish policy and market information and analysis. And I can (and do) call on agricultural economists at universities and research institutes for first-rate economic analyses of specific policy proposals. But the number of people who truly understand the details of Congressional budget rules, processes, and strategies, how CBO’s baselines and cost estimates are put together, and how they affect agricultural policy is relatively small."
He adds, “While economics is, of course, critical to good agricultural policy, there are no House or Senate rules that can kill a bill because its underlying economics are weak—but there are a number of House and Senate rules that can kill a bill if CBO scores its costs as being over budget.” While part of his job is helping get the economics in bills as right as the politics allow, a bigger part is helping members of Congress structure their proposals to match the costs of their bills to the money available.
Craig especially enjoys helping people understand what he calls “budget world.” He has given more than 25 budget-related presentations to widely diverse groups in the past year. He will be presenting in Pittsburgh on “What You Need to Know about the Budget and the Next Farm Bill” during Monday’s 1:30-3:00 p.m. session.
On the personal side, Craig has been married for 24 years to Joy Harwood, Chief Economist and Director of the Economic and Policy Analysis Staff for the USDA-Farm Service Agency. Joy and Craig have two daughters, Margaret Joy Ling, age 11, and Caroline Shu Ni, age 7, who they adopted from China in 2001 and 2005.
This post is part of an ongoing series of profiles of AAEA members. Have a suggestion for a future profile? Send them to Info@aaea.org.