Elanor Starmer, who has worked on agricultural policy issues her entire career, was appointed in February 2016 as a director of the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), which promotes the sale and distribution of American agricultural products.
Starmer is originally from New England and lives in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. She attended Milton Academy near Boston, where her parents, Nancy and Jack, taught. Early in her career, Starmer studied Latin American agriculture, which she credits to her mother’s specialty, Latin American history, and grew up in a farming community in New Hampshire. She graduated from Milton in 1996 and received a bachelor’s degree in public policy from Brown in 2000.
After graduation, she became a program associate for Colombia and Central America for the Latin American Working Group, focusing on development and human rights issues. Starmer returned to college, this time to Tufts, where she earned a master’s degree in development economics from the Fletcher School as well as a master’s degree in agricultural, food and environmental policy from the Friedman School in 2007. Meanwhile, she and Timothy A. Wise did a study, “Feeding to the Trough: Factory Livestock Companies Saved $ 35 Billion from Low Feed Prices,” examining how commodity subsidies benefit farmers. large-scale agriculture.
After leaving Tufts, Starmer worked for a year as a consultant at the Natural Resources Defense Council, then in 2008 was appointed Western Region Director for Food & Water Watch, where she managed the organizers.
Starmer joined the US Department of Agriculture in 2011, initially working for the Under Secretary of Agriculture, developing the “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” program. In 2013 she was appointed Coordinator and Advisor for Local and Regional Food Systems and in 2015 Starmer was appointed Senior Advisor to Secretary Tom Vilsack.
Shortly after starting the agricultural marketing department, Starmer had to defuse a controversy when one of the collection groups under the service’s oversight, the American Egg Board, was accused of attempting to thwart sales of mayonnaise without eggs. The head of the Egg Council has resigned and has been replaced by Starmer’s predecessor at AMS, Anne Alonzo.
Starmer is married to Kumar Chandran, Chief of Staff to Under Secretary of Agriculture Kevin Concannon. They have a son. Starmer sits on the board of directors of his neighborhood association in Washington, DC
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