Dr. Chi-Chung Chen received his PhD in Agricultural Economics from Texas A&M in 1999. Today, he is a Distinguished Professor, and also serves in a position equal to Provost of a major Taiwanese University. Additionally, he is now Minister of Agriculture in Taiwan (a county of 23.5 million people), and chief agricultural policy advisor to the Taiwanese President.
Chi-Chung Chen grew up on a family farm in Wandan, Pingtung County, the southernmost county in Taiwan. Vegetables, rice, and other crops along with hogs were the principal enterprises. Dr. Chen earned his bachelor’s (1989) and master’s (1994) degrees in Agricultural Economics at the National Taiwan University in Taipei. During his college life, Dr. Chen participated in many student clubs that carried out community service in agricultural areas during winter and summer breaks. Those club activities informed him about many problems in Taiwan’s agricultural sector and instilled a desire in him to help alleviate some of those problems. During 1991-92, Dr. Chen served in the Taiwanese military for the compulsory two years.
During his time at Texas A&M, Chen worked with Dr. McCarl on many issues, helping to develop a version of the US agricultural sector model that considers risk and climate events, and an agricultural and forestry sector model that remains in use today. In recognition of this work, Chen was on a team that earned the Vice Chancellor’s award for Industry/Agency/Association partnerships specifically for work done in conjunction with the USDA Soil Conservation Service on analyzing the effects of changes in coastal zone management and more generally changes in agricultural policy. He also was a key supporting analyst to the 1999-2001 US National Assessment of Climate Change in conjunction with McCarl. In 2000, Dr. Chen returned to Taiwan, becoming an assistant professor at the National Chung-Hsing University. While there, Dr. Chen worked extensively on many issues in Taiwan including trade issues regarding rice and fisheries, climate-change effects, El Niño Southern Oscillation effects, economics of bioenergy production, also ventured into the study of climate effects on highly communicable diseases – SARS, influenza, avian flu, and dengue fever. On the teaching side, Dr. Chen taught Introduction to Agricultural Economics, Microeconomic Theory, Quantitative Methods, and Optimization Theory. In recognition of his excellent work, he was rapidly promoted, becoming Associate Professor in 2004 and Full Professor in 2007. Subsequently, Dr. Chen was appointed to the highest professorial, “Distinguished Professor” position at National Chung-Hsing University in 2008 (an honor earned by very few.) Dr. Chen subsequently was named Secretary General of National Chung-Hsing University in 2011, which is a position equivalent to Provost at Texas A&M, placing Dr. Chen third in command of that university which has more than 17,000 students.
During his professional career to date, Dr. Chen has established himself as one of the most prolific researchers on the effects of climate change and El Niño Southern Oscillation events on agriculture, with more than fifty articles attributed to him since 2000. Dr. Chen’s body of work has also significantly bolstered the reputation of the Texas A&M Department of Agricultural Economics as much of it was accomplished in collaboration with TAMU’s Dr. McCarl, including coauthoring work that contributed to McCarl’s later appointment to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and subsequent participation in the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.
Through his highly productive program, Dr. Chen has established himself as an international leader in economic analysis of agricultural policy and environmental issues and as a leader in the agricultural policy community in Taiwan. He is regarded by a number of Taiwanese agricultural economists as the best agricultural economist in the country. In 2016, he was elected as the chairperson of the Rural Economics Society of Taiwan (REST), which is equivalent to being elected president of Agricultural and Applied Economics Association. Dr. Chen was the youngest elected president in the history of that Association.
In terms of international activities, Dr. Chen has worked with individuals and universities across the world, including hosting several teams of researchers from the Borlaug Institute at Texas A&M, providing them with learning opportunities unique to Taiwan. He is Co-PI of a European Union project “SUSFANS: Metrics, Models and Foresight for European SUStainable Food and Nutrition Security (2015-2018),” an EU Horizon 2020 Societal Challenge 2 Project which has 15 consortium members, including universities from the Netherlands, Germany, France, England, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, and Italy, along with the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis and the European Commission Joint Research Centre IES. He has also been heavily involved in the Asian-Pacific network of agricultural economists.
Living across the world has not stopped Dr. Chen from being active at Texas A&M University. To this day, he continues to collaborate with College of Agriculture and Life Sciences faculty, including Dr. Bruce McCarl and Dr. Elsa Murano on various research projects and publications. He has also visited Texas A&M on study leaves twice (in 2005 and 2009), once as a Fulbright Scholar.
Dr. Chen now has ascended to a key agricultural policy position in Taiwan as Minister of Agriculture and a member of President Tsai’s cabinet. In that position, he is chief architect of Taiwan’s agricultural policy initiatives in both the domestic policy and international arenas. He also represents Taiwan in international trade negotiations. In his policy role, he is implementing new policies based on his analyses and ideas formed well before he entered the Ministerial position. Internationally, Dr. Chen is responsible for: (1) Taiwan’s WTO agricultural trade negotiations; (2) implementation of public policy to prevent illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU fishing); and (3) country representation on the committee for the New Southbound policy, which emphasizes linkages and cooperation among Southeast Asian countries. He also serves as a board member on the World Vegetable Council.
Dr. Chen and his wife, Meili Hsieh, have three children, Joanne, Megan, and Thomas, two of whom were born in College Station.
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