Mary Ahearn

Agricultural Economist


Mary Ahearn is Acting Deputy Director for Research and Communications in the Resource and Rural Economics Division.


Mary joined ERS in 1978 and served in many positions until her retirement in 2014, including Agricultural Economist, Senior Economist, Section Leader, Branch Chief, Acting Associate Division Director, and Assistant Administrator. Mary’s research covered such topics as the economic well-being of farm operators and their households, the structure and performance of the agricultural sector, rural health care, and policies affecting the well-being of farm operator households and rural residents. Mary was an early contributor to the design of the Agricultural Resource Management Survey and the advancement of economic statistics for agriculture and served on the Board of Amber Waves. While at ERS, Mary served in several leadership roles with professional societies and on the boards of professional journals, as well as many USDA-wide committees and a detail at the Office of Budget and Program Analysis, USDA. In addition, Mary was a research economist at the Western Rural Development Center and an adjunct professor at Oregon State University. Since 2014, Mary has worked as a consultant for a variety of farm and governmental organizations, served as the editor of Choices magazine and on the Boards of C-FARE, CFI, and NCFAP. She is currently a Fellow at the National Center of Food and Agricultural Policy.


Mary received her Ph.D. in Agricultural and Resource Economics from Oregon State University, her M.S. in Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology from the Pennsylvania State University, and her B.S. in Food and Resource Economics from the University of Florida.