KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Aaron Smith, an associate professor and crop marketing specialist in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture, has received the Early Career Contributions to Public Policy Award by the Council on Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics.
The award specifically honors early-career food, agricultural and resource economists who generate science-based, policy-relevant knowledge and who actively seek to make that knowledge available in a form accessible to U.S. public policy decision-makers at the federal, state and local levels.
A trusted agricultural leader in the state of Tennessee, Smith served as a point person on agricultural and commodity issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic. He provided monthly virtual presentations throughout 2020 at the Tennessee Commissioner of Agriculture’s COVID-19 Leadership Forum that included nearly 200 agricultural leaders from the private sector and from local, state and federal government. He also shared his insights with key university personnel, advisory councils and stakeholders.
Additionally, Smith established a COVID-19 webpage that provides state-level instructions to help producers and agribusinesses navigate government programs such as the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. He also worked with research faculty on a publication series quantifying the pandemic’s impact on Tennessee’s economy as it relates to agriculture, providing state leaders with vital information.
Smith has also cultivated a nationally recognized statewide Extension education program. His ability to distill complex market data into information producers can use to manage risk and enhance profitability has made him a popular speaker among the state’s Extension agents and crop producers, presenting in excess of 300 producer and agri-industry meetings with more than 17,000 participants. He has published more than 20 journal articles and obtained more than $15 million in grants to support his Extension program and graduate students.
“Aaron works tirelessly to educate producers, policymakers and the general public on a wide variety of issues related to agricultural policy,” said Chris Clark, head of the UT Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics. “His efforts enhance decision-making from the crop field to the Capitol building. It’s exciting when others recognize the tremendous impact he has on agriculture in Tennessee.”
Smith serves as a UT Knoxville faculty senator; former chair of the Southern Extension Economics Committee; president of the Tennessee Chapter of Gamma Sigma Delta; chair of the Tennessee Farmer of the Year Selection Committee; and president-elect for the Tennessee Agricultural Agents Association. Earlier this year, Smith won the Harley and Juanita Clark Irwin Extension Service Award that recognizes outstanding service in the field of agricultural economics and agribusiness education.
Through its land-grant mission of research, teaching and extension, the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture touches lives and provides Real. Life. Solutions. utia.tennessee.edu.