Research and Policy Analyst
Are you passionate about building sustainable, equitable food and farm systems? Do you love working in a collaborative context? Are you a data nerd? The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) is seeking a Research and Policy Analyst to support our policy development and advocacy. The Research and Policy Analyst position is a new and unique role at NSAC. Through data collection and analysis, this position will contribute to NSAC’s policy and appropriations campaigns, annual priority setting process, and communications advocacy. The Analyst will also contribute significantly to NSAC’s efforts to identify policy changes needed to reform program access, delivery, and outcomes for historically underserved producers. Strong candidates for this position will be eager to help define this new role at NSAC.
This role will build on your skills and experience in data collection, organization, and maintenance; quantitative analysis; and using data to tell stories to a variety of audiences to advance a more equitable and resilient food and farm system. If you are just as excited to dive into spreadsheets full of conservation program participation data as you are to craft compelling stories about these programs in action, this is the role for you. As a key member of our policy team, you will provide critical support to our advocacy efforts by building data-backed policy positions and communicating about agricultural trends, challenges, and solutions to our coalition of 130+ members, to policymakers, and the public.
Here’s an example of the kind of work you would do over the course of a year:
- Annually gather ProTracts data from NRCS and analyze the data to understand demographic and other trends in how Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) contracts are being awarded on a national and state-specific basis, which conservation practice standards are being adopted, and other program-use data.
- Collaborate with NSAC’s conservation policy specialist and communications team to integrate analysis into special reports and posts for publication on NSAC’s blog to raise awareness about trends in CSP participation and impacts.
- Integrate CSP analysis into state-specific issue one-pagers and appropriations requests for NSAC’s congressional advocacy.
- Maintain NSAC’s equity data and metrics tracker to include updated information on CSP access by underserved producers.
- Provide NSAC’s Conservation, Energy, and Environment Issue Committee with updated analysis on CSP access and impacts to inform NSAC’s annual priority setting process.
Collaboratively with the NSAC team and its member-led issue committees and policy council, you would conduct this type of data collection, analysis, and information-sharing for many key agricultural programs and policies, including – for example – farm ownership loans, local agriculture marketing programs, food safety inspections, sustainable agriculture research grants, programs providing outreach and assistance to underserved producers, and more. A significant amount of time during the first 3-6 months of the position will be focused on developing a workplan to prioritize data collection and analysis efforts and updating and maintaining NSAC’s existing systems for data storage and organization. We seek someone with significant interest and experience in data collection and organization and basic quantitative analysis skills. The scope and type of analysis that could be conducted in the position could (and likely would) shift over time based on the analyst’s existing skills and future interests.
This is a full-time, exempt, bargaining unit position that offers benefits as outlined in the employee handbook and reports to NSAC’s Deputy Policy Director. NSAC operates with a flexible work policy allowing for remote work when possible, with all employees generally being available virtually during the core hours of 10am – 4pm Eastern. Candidates based in or willing to relocate to the Washington, DC area will have a dedicated workspace in the NSAC Capitol Hill office. Candidates based remotely will be expected to travel to NSAC’s office in Washington DC on an as-needed basis for key events, and periodically throughout the year for our biannual coalition meetings and other relevant conferences.
NSAC is an alliance of grassroots organizations that advocates for federal policy reform to advance the sustainability of agriculture, food systems, natural resources, and rural communities. For over 30 years, NSAC’s stellar track record of policy accomplishments has been guided by a vision of agriculture where a safe, nutritious, ample, and affordable food supply is produced by a legion of family farmers who make a decent living for their work, while protecting the environment, and contributing to the strength and stability of their communities. Racial justice – an understanding and acknowledgment of historical and ongoing racial inequities and commitment to actions challenging those inequities – is a core NSAC tenet that we seek to embed in our structure, analysis, policy development, and advocacy.
Data collection and analysis – 50%
- Identify, collect, and organize qualitative and quantitative data on key USDA programs in support of NSAC’s policy and advocacy goals, particularly with regard to advancing racial justice across USDA programs and policies. Data collection methods may include obtaining collated data from USDA, gathering and collating distributed data on program awards, interviewing program participants, and gathering relevant literature on program impacts and pertinent research associated with programs.
- Develop and maintain an updated and accessible compilation of USDA program data, with particular focus on regular maintenance of equity data compilation and analysis.
- Analyze quantitative USDA program data, producing descriptive statistics on program use and identifying trends in program access.
- Conduct literature reviews on potential program impacts and researched program outcomes using the existing peer-reviewed literature.
- Qualitatively analyze data on USDA program use and impact to understand the accessibility and impacts of key USDA programs.
Program and policy analysis and evaluation – 20%
- In collaboration with the policy team, assemble data and analysis for inclusion in legislative text, report language, testimony, rulemaking comment letters, and other policy justification and explanation documents.
- Identify data gaps and develop policy and other solutions to overcome gaps and improve public data reporting and access, in collaboration with the policy team and Issue Committees.
- Work with Racial Justice Committee liaisons, Issue Committee co-chairs and Policy Director/Deputy PD to actively apply a racial equity lens to NSAC’s policy work, including during the annual priority setting process to support NSAC’s understanding and due consideration of the equity impacts and outcomes associated with NSAC’s annual coalition priorities.
Reporting and communications – 20%
- Contribute regular blog posts, on assigned priorities and issues, that strategically advance NSAC’s advocacy by establishing fact-based narratives, elevating issues in media, and sharing essential information with stakeholders.
- Develop white papers and related publications based on research and analysis and in collaboration with the policy team and issue committees.
- Contribute to larger reports and collaborate on research findings and report drafts.
- Work with the communications team and design consultants to create and format simple data visualizations, such as maps, tables, or infographics.
- Speak on behalf of and represent NSAC at meetings, conferences, and other events when strategic and as capacity allows.
Organizational Support – 10%
- Provide input to grant proposals and grant reports and evaluations.
- Participate in recurring full team or policy team meetings, and other ad hoc meetings as needed.
- Participate in racial affinity caucusing (staff and coalition).
- Assist as needed with organizing and facilitating NSAC meetings, including taking turns rotating facilitation of monthly equity lunch discussions and helping plan our biannual coalition meetings.
This is an intermediate level position primarily focused on research and analysis. The ideal candidate will have strong organizational and analytical skills, excellent attention to detail, and a demonstrated interest in advancing equitable and resilient farm and food systems. We strongly encourage interested candidates to apply if they meet at least 75% of the qualifications. We also strongly encourage applications from people of color, people from working class backgrounds, women, people with non traditional academic backgrounds, LGBTQ people, or those who are members of other marginalized communities.
- An understanding of and passion for sustainable agriculture and food systems.
- Demonstrated understanding of how racial equity intersects with agriculture and food systems and the ability and enthusiasm to apply this understanding to specific research and analysis, policy development, ground-truthing, and decision-making.
- A master’s degree or higher in research and evaluation methods, food systems, agroecology, agricultural economics, agronomy, geography, rural sociology, law or public policy, or related field, or a bachelor’s degree with relevant work experience.
- Familiarity and experience with analysis methods including literature reviews and simple quantitative and qualitative data analysis.
- Significant experience collecting, organizing, and maintaining large datasets over time.
- Ability to identify gaps in data and develop solutions to address data shortcomings.
- Excellent written and verbal communication skills, including ability to translate complex information, data, and technical details to a variety of audiences and partners.
- Exceptional initiative and interpersonal skills, including the ability to work independently and collaboratively, listen well, build trust, and model healthy conflict resolution.
- Strong project management skills, capable of planning, prioritizing, and troubleshooting efforts in an ongoing manner and working on variable, sometimes fast-paced project timelines.
- Ability to work effectively with, value differences of, and incorporate the experiences and policy impacts on diverse groups of individuals, including race, ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation, religion, ability, and socioeconomic circumstances.
- Enthusiasm for and experience in cultivating lasting relationships and accountable partnerships with a diverse body of stakeholders and decision makers.
- Willingness to travel domestically several times a year.
Additional Experience or Skills That Will Help You Excel:
- Experience in statistical analysis and research tools, including field research.
- Experience in other qualitative research methods, such as field interviews and case studies.
- Experience with mapping or other data visualization skills (e.g. GIS, infographics).
- Experience conducting program evaluations.
- Experience submitting or processing FOIA requests.
- Experience in or a working knowledge of the federal policy-making process, including the annual appropriations process.
- Experience in any food & agriculture policy arenas, such as conservation, farm credit, rural development – and an understanding of cross-issue connections.
- Experience working in federal or state government on program development or implementation.
- Background with grassroots advocacy campaigns (e.g. field organizing, lobby days, etc) or large, multi-organization grassroots coalitions, including facilitation and consensus building.
- Experience on a farm or value chain business (food hub, processor, farmers market, etc).
- Fluency in a language other than English.
SALARY AND BENEFITS
NSAC offers a competitive non-profit salary and benefits, dependent on qualifications and experience, $70,000 – $85,000.
This position offers excellent benefits (as per the employee handbook), including generous vacation and other time-off; health, dental, and long-term disability insurance; contributions after two years in a retirement plan; and financial support for professional and personal development.