Tuesday, January 12, 2021

AAEA Goverment Releations & Washington Update: January 2021

I am excited to start working on behalf of AAEA and its members to promote the interests of agricultural and applied economics in Washington, DC.  For my first column, I’d like to introduce myself and provide some perspective on the outlook for 2021. 

I have over 25 years of experience working on agricultural policy in a variety of capacities ranging from the private sector to government service.  For the last 12 years, I have been President of The Randel Group, LLC, a government relations firm that I founded.  My focus at The Randel Group has been to serve clients in food and agriculture, including work to increase federal support for agricultural research, extension and education. 

Prior to founding The Randel Group, I served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Congressional Relations at the United States Department of Agriculture, where I was responsible for coordinating the Department’s engagement with Congress during the 2008 Farm Bill.  I also was part of a three-person team selected to lead the Department’s implementation of the Farm Bill, working across all USDA agencies.  Prior to my role in Congressional Relations, I worked in the Research, Education and Economics Mission Area, which has responsibility for the Economic Research Service, National Agricultural Statistics Service, National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the Agricultural Research Service.   

In addition to The Randel Group and USDA, I have worked for other government relations firms representing agriculture and university clients.  I hold a Bachelor’s Degree in Agricultural Economics from Texas A&M University, so have a strong appreciation for the work of AAEA and economists.  I also have a Master’s Degree in Agricultural Development from Texas A&M and a law degree from George Mason University.

Now, with my introduction out of the way, let’s get to work!  I believe that this is an important time for AAEA to increase its efforts in Washington.  2021 brings with it a new Administration, new Congress, and new leaders to key agencies such as ERS, NIFA and the USDA Office of the Chief Economist.  This time of transition marks a great opportunity for AAEA to establish itself as a premier resource at the intersection of policy and economics in a wide range of issue areas that span the diversity of AAEA expertise.  As policy makers tackle issues such as the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, and preparing for the 2022 Farm Bill, we should strive to ensure that AAEA and its members are well positioned to be valuable resources to inform and influence the debate.    I look forward to working with AAEA to advance the priorities of agricultural and applied economics with Congress, relevant agencies, and stakeholders. 

Lowell Randel

AAEA’s DC Representative

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