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USDA's chief economist to leave post in January

Keith Collins, a 32-year career federal employee, has served in the position since 1992.

Acting Agriculture Secretary Chuck Conner announced Tuesday that USDA Chief Economist Keith Collins will retire Jan. 3 and named Deputy Chief Economist Joseph Glauber as acting chief economist.

Although Glauber is widely expected to get the job on a permanent basis, a USDA spokesman said the appointment is not permanent at this time because federal employment rules require that the job be advertised and opened up to competition. The position does not require Senate confirmation.

Glauber is currently on detail to the office of the U.S. Trade Representative and serving as special U.S. envoy for agriculture in the Doha round of multilateral tade negotiations. Conner said Glauber will retain that role after he returns to USDA in mid-December to assume the duties of chief economist.

Collins, a federal employee for 32 years, has served as chief economist -- a job that involves overseeing USDA's program of market forecasts and projections -- since 1992. Glauber has been his deputy throughout that period.

During the Bush administration, Collins also has served as chairman of the board of directors of the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation and as chairman of the USDA Graduate School.

Glauber has served as senior staff economist for agriculture, natural resources and trade at the President's Council of Economic Advisers and as an economist at USDA's Economic Research Service. He received his Ph.D. in agricultural economics from the University of Wisconsin in 1984 and holds an AB in anthropology from the University of Chicago.

"Dr. Keith Collins has been a cornerstone of the strength of USDA," Conner said in a statement. "His distinguished service to agriculture has brought incisive analysis to inform USDA decisions made on behalf of America's farmers and ranchers. Keith will be greatly missed by many and I wish him well in retirement."

"We are fortunate to have someone as talented as Dr. Joe Glauber ready to assume a more prominent leadership role," Conner added. "Having served as deputy chief economist for 15 years, Joe is well-prepared for the demands of the post and well-respected throughout American agriculture. The valued contributions of both economists are innumerable. USDA has benefited enormously from their insight and analysis."