Ron Sands

Ron Sands

Senior Economist


Ron Sands joined USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) in January 2009. Ron's primary activity is development and application of the Future Agricultural Resources Model (FARM), a global computable-general-equilibrium model used to simulate agricultural adaptation to climate change and options for reducing net greenhouse gas emissions in agriculture, forestry, and energy systems. The FARM model enables active participation in multi-model studies organized by the Agricultural Model Intercomparison and Improvement Project (AgMIP) and the Stanford Energy Modeling Forum. Current research at ERS includes simulation of world food demand through 2050, competition for land between energy crops and food crops, and the role of agricultural productivity as an adaptation strategy to climate change. Ron is a member of the Interagency Group on Integrative Modeling, an interagency working group of the U.S. Global Change Research Program.


Prior to joining ERS, Ron had nearly 22 years of service with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) at various locations: Richland, Washington; Portland, Oregon; Washington, D.C.; and the Joint Global Change Research Institute in College Park, Maryland. Ron's research at PNNL included the development of economic models to simulate global land competition and energy systems in the context of a greenhouse gas mitigation policy.


Ron earned a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering, a Bachelor of Science in economics, and a Ph.D. in economics, all from the University of Minnesota.

Professional Affiliations

Ron is a member of the American Economic Association, the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, and the International Association for Energy Economics.

Selected Publications

Wiebe, K., H. Lotze-Campen, R. Sands, A. Tabeau, D. van der Mensbrugghe, A. Biewald, B. Bodirsky, S. Islam, A. Kavallari, D. Mason-D'Croz, C. Müller, A. Popp, R. Robertson, S. Robinson, H. van Meijl, and D. Willenbockel. 2015. "Climate Change Impacts on Agriculture in 2050 under a Range of Plausible Socioeconomic and Emissions Scenarios," Environmental Research Letters 10(8).

Sands, R., H. Förster, C. Jones, and K. Schumacher. 2014. "Bio-electricity and Land Use in the Future Agricultural Resources Model (FARM)," Climatic Change (special issue) 123(3-4):719-730.

Nelson, G., H. Valin, R. Sands, P. Havlik, H. Ahammad, D. Deryng, J. Elliott, S. Fujimori, T. Hasegawa, E. Heyhoe, P. Kyle, M. von Lampe, H. Lotze-Campen, D. Mason-D’Croz, H. van Meijl, D. van der Mensbrugghe, C. Müller, A. Popp, R. Robertson, S. Robinson, E. Schmid, C. Schmitz, A. Tabeau, and D. Willenbockel. 2014. "Climate change effects on agriculture: Economic responses to biophysical shocks," Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (special feature) 111(9):3274-3279.

Wise, M., K. Calvin, A. Thomson, L. Clarke, B. Bond-Lamberty, R. Sands, S. Smith, A. Janetos, and J. Edmonds. 2009. "Implications of Limiting CO2 Concentrations for Land Use and Energy," Science 324:1183-1186.

Sands, R., and M. Kim. 2009. "Modeling the Competition for Land: Methods and Application to Climate Policy," Chapter 7 in Economic Analysis of Land Use in Global Climate Change Policy, T. Hertel, S. Rose, and R. Tol, eds. Abingdon, UK: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.

Sands, R., and J. Edmonds. 2005. "Climate Change Impacts for the Conterminous USA: An Integrated Assessment; Part 7. Economic Analysis of Field Crops and Land Use with Climate Change," Climatic Change 69(1):127-150.

Sands, R., and M. Leimbach. 2003. "Modeling Agriculture and Land Use in an Integrated Assessment Framework," Climatic Change 56(1):185-210.