Economic Tools Development Agricultural Economist
Fully Remote Remote, DC


American Farmland Trust is the only national organization that takes a holistic approach to agriculture, focusing on the land itself, the agricultural practices used on that land, and the farmers and ranchers who do the work. Since our founding in 1980, AFT has helped permanently protect over 6.5 million acres of agricultural lands, advanced environmentally-sound farming practices on millions of additional acres, and helped thousands of farm families make a go of it (primarily through programs that increase farm viability and/or enhance farmland access). Long a pioneering leader, AFT is now riding a new wave of growth, driven by agriculture’s most pressing needs and opportunities. 

We believe diversity drives innovation. We are inclusive. We embrace differences. We recognize and respect the fundamental value and dignity of all our employees. We celebrate the unique traditions, heritages, and experiences our employees bring to the workplace. We are committed to creating and sustaining an inclusive culture that promotes and values diversity, and where everyone feels empowered to bring their authentic selves to work every day.

We provide equal employment opportunities (EEO) to all employees and applicants for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, expression or identity, national origin, age, disability, or genetics. In addition to federal law requirements, American Farmland Trust complies with applicable state and local laws governing nondiscrimination in employment in every location in which we have facilities. This policy applies to all terms and conditions of employment, including recruiting, hiring, placement, promotion, termination, layoff, recall, transfer, leaves of absence, compensation, and training.

Evidence demonstrating the economic benefits of soil health management systems is currently limited and yet critically needed to drive scaled-up adoption. AFT is working to fill the gap with user-friendly soil health economic calculators for a diversity of production systems and practices. 

Reporting to the Economic Tools Development Manager/Senior Agricultural Economist, the Economic Tools Development Agricultural Economist will (1) conduct research and further develop AFT’s three existing economic tools: Retrospective Soil Health Economic Calculator (R-SHEC) Tool, Predictive or P-SHEC Tool, and Online-SHEC Tool and (2) serve as a reviewing economist for AFT’s soil health economic case studies. 

AFT seeks to expand the functionality of the three economic tools so they can be used for more production systems, in more states, and more soil health practices. AFT needs additional reviewing economists to ensure that the economic case studies produced by our case study authors are economically sound and credible. Download the R-SHEC Tool Kit to learn about the methods and case studies here: 

As an integral part of the AFT Program team, the Agricultural Economist will be key in completing deliverables focused on AFT’s Soil Health Economic Tools as well as shaping the future of how the tools work. 

This person will also work on an interdisciplinary team to research and accelerate the development of the P-SHEC Tool’s Long-Term Benefits sheet in the Excel-based tool to improve the soil organic matter (SOM)-crop yield relationship calculations and explore other important causal relationships between soil health and economic indicators as the basis for the predictive functions of the P-SHEC Tool. In addition, the person will further refine, with the team, the R-SHEC and O-SHEC tools.

What You’ll Be Working On

  • Conduct internal review and editing of several soil health economic case studies written by AFT authors. 
  • Manage external review and editing by government and university agricultural economists and soil scientists before the case studies go to publication.
  • Collaborate with the Soil Health Economics Accelerator Team to continue the development of all three tools (R-SHEC, P-SHEC, and O-SHEC Tools), pending data availability, and team priorities to (1) expand to priority states, (2) expand beyond existing row crops, (3) expand nut crops beyond almonds and possibly to fruit orchards, (4) expand to perennial crops, (5) expand soil health practices (e.g., agroforestry), and (6) develop a grazing version of the tools. 
  • Continue development of all three tools to (1) solve challenges in calculating costs of simultaneous changes in conservation crop rotation and soil health practices and (2) adjust the tools to allow proper quantification of double-cropping short-term effects.
  • Collaborate on the creation of a P-SHEC Tool Kit and associated materials, including a user manual, and then facilitate an external review by a selection of interdisciplinary experts.
  • Once complete, oversee pilot-use and evaluation of the updated P-SHEC tool by AFT Authors to conduct interviews with pilot “soil health curious farmers” to test the updated tool and produce predictive assessments. 
  • Incorporate feedback from users of the updated tools on options for adjusting them to better serve internal and external partner needs. 
  • Produce and use associated education and outreach materials, such as PowerPoints and webinars, for a wide array of audiences. 
  • Provide training to the internal and external partners on how to use updated and expanded tools to develop their own case studies and predictive assessments. 


The ideal candidate is self-motivated, able to work on their own initiative as well as collaboratively, and possesses:

  • Knowledge about U.S. commodity crop production systems (e.g., corn, soybeans, wheat, hay, corn silage, and almonds); ability to learn additional production systems, such as agroforestry and grazing, vegetables, and fruit orchards, is a plus. 
  • Knowledge about soil health practices (e.g., no-till, strip-till, cover crops, nutrient management, conservation crop rotation, mulching, and compost and/or other soil carbon amendment application.
  • Knowledge in farm production economics and be experienced performing on-farm economic analyses including partial budget analysis. 
  • Knowledge about soil health science and the relationships between soil health practices and crop yield, nutrient and chemical input use, etc. 
  • Ability to communicate highly technical economic and scientific data and analyses in an effective and meaningful way to various audiences including farmers, conservation professional, and fellow economists both verbally and in writing. 
  • Ability to juggle multiple research and tool development fronts at various stages of completion and various stages of internal and external review. 
  • Ability to work effectively in a multi-disciplinary, non-siloed, highly collaborative environment and across the organization in a remote-work environment. 
  • Flexibility and eager to learn new methods and analytical approaches as they may change over time. 
  • Experience in using Outlook, Microsoft Office 365 Suite including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Teams. 
  • Ability to support a strong team culture of shared learning, innovation, and problem solving among AFT staff.

The following qualifications are a plus:

  • Experience developing Excel-based economic-environmental tools is a plus. 
  • Knowledge in econometrics and using a relevant statistical software (R, Stata, etc.) is a plus. 
  • Experience using COMET-Planner, COMET-Farm, Nutrient Tracking Tool or any other national environmental outcome quantification tools is a plus. 
  • Experience collaborating with members of the academic and practitioner conservation community is a plus (i.e., ERS, ARS, NRCS, University Agricultural Economists, Extension, farm trade associations, corporations with sustainability goals, NGOs, ag      retailers, etc.)

Education & Experience

  • Master’s degree in agricultural economics; or if education is in a different economics discipline, 3+ years’ work experience in some aspect of agriculture and or sustainability/environmental conservation is required.
  • >3 years’ experience as a practicing agricultural economist is required. 

Why you should apply

  • Be a part of a purpose-driven, committed, knowledgeable, high-performing, experienced and fun team
  • A diverse and inclusive work environment
  • A cause and mission you can be proud of
  • Competitive compensation & benefits
  • Remote work opportunities
  • Flexible scheduling

Ready to apply? If this job sounds like a fit for you, then click on the ‘apply’ button below.  Please answer the screener questions and include a resume and cover letter to be considered.

Salary Description
75,000 - 95,000