Meet Megan Thomas, Agricultural Economist
Inspired by growing up in a small-scale vegetable farm in Louisiana, Megan Thomas excels as an Agricultural Economist in the private sector.
I work as an economist at Mercaris, which is a market data service and online trading platform that provides market pricing and other data analytics for organic and non-GMO agricultural commodities in the U.S. and Canada. The specific commodities that we provide accurate and up to date information on including organic corn, soybeans, wheat, oats, barley, rye, and non-GMO corn and non-GMO soybeans. Mercaris’ goal is to improve price transparency and support the growth of the organic market supply chain. Some of my responsibilities include research and writing articles and summaries that explain the underlying economic fundamentals of cash prices for identity preserved (IP) grains & oilseeds; assisting on new product development for our company; monitoring trends in IP markets to understand both supply and demand drivers; providing specific analysis and statistics as needed; and answering customer questions.
· What made you choose this discipline? Please describe your journey.
I chose this discipline because my father was a small-scale local vegetable farmer in our hometown of Plaisance, Louisiana. I grew up around agriculture and saw how strenuous farming could sometimes be, mainly because harvesting vegetables required a great deal of human labor instead of equipment. But it was such a rewarding experience to provide food to our local community and have customers request these foods each season. It was then that I realized this was the industry I wanted a career in. I had an interest in math, and after receiving the USDA 1890 National Scholars scholarship upon high school graduation, I decided to pursue agricultural economics at Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. After completion of my bachelor’s degree, I finished a master of science in agricultural business and economics from Auburn University in May 2018. I started my position at Mercaris in August 2018, and it’s been wonderful ever since.
· Have you experienced any difficulties or issues in the workspace? How did you overcome this?
The primary challenge I’ve faced in the workplace is having the least amount of job experience out of all my colleagues, so there is a huge learning curve for me. I used to think that once I finished school and landed a job that was it. But the truth is you continue to learn every day on the job. Also, I’m lucky to work in an environment that’s culturally diverse and well represented by women as I know this is often rare.
· Are there any outstanding experiences that have positively impacted you?
Having the opportunity to work with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service in Washington, D.C. was a fantastic experience for me. I networked with so many professionals and also met some Foreign Service Officers who were just returning to the U.S. from their overseas posts. It was inspiring and also comforting to see people in these extraordinary spaces who looked like me.
· Do you have a piece of advice you wish you had when you started your journey?
Take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way, even if you feel like you’re not “ready” yet.
· What else are you passionate about?
I’m pretty passionate about exercising. I enjoy running, biking, and hiking in my free time.
· What are your future goals?
My future goals are to become a college professor later in life and own and operate a small vegetable farm.
· What would you like to say to young female students out there?
I would say that there may be people along your journey who don’t want to see you succeed because you’re a minority or because you’re a woman or both. Discrimination because of these things also happens sometimes. However, you always have to remember your end goals and that there will be more people out there who are willing to help you and mentor you than there will be naysayers.
My advice is to find your “tribe” or a group of like-minded people who will be your support system.
· Where can people find you?
LinkedIn: Megan Thomas