Challey Spotlight: Sandro Steinbach

|   Challey Institute for Global Innovation and Growth

The Challey Institute for Global Innovation and Growth is highlighting the impact of our faculty and students at NDSU and in the community. This month, we are shining a spotlight on Challey Faculty Scholar, Sandro Steinbach.

Challey Spotlight: Sandro Steinbach

Challey Faculty Scholar

Dr. Sandro Steinbach, Associate Professor and Director of the Center for Agricultural Policy and Trade Studies at North Dakota State University (NDSU) and a Challey Institute Scholar. His comprehensive research spans agricultural policies and international trade, significantly contributing to understanding complex global dynamics. Dr. Steinbach's expertise extends from scholarly publications in top-tier journals like Nature Communications and the Review of International Economics to impactful policy advisories that resonate across media outlets such as The New York Times and NPR. Recognized nationally through several prestigious awards, his work advances academic discourse and shapes practical policy frameworks affecting the agricultural sector.

His Research

A critical area of his research is analyzing the impact of market and policy shocks on global supply chains and investment activities. This research is particularly relevant today, where geopolitical events and policy decisions can have wide-ranging effects on global trade dynamics. Through his analysis, we can better understand how these shocks spread throughout international markets, impacting producers and consumers.

Russia-Ukraine Conflict

His research on the conflict between Russia and Ukraine is noteworthy for its timely and critical analysis of its impact on agricultural trade and commodity prices. It provides vital insights into both the short-term and long-term implications of the conflict and offers a comprehensive view of how geopolitical events can reshape global trade patterns and affect food security.

Fostering Global Agricultural Resilience

Through his work, he contributes to developing strategies to foster resilience in global agricultural systems. His research on trade and investment disruptions offers valuable guidance for policy-making, aiming to mitigate the impacts on global food markets and ensure stable, robust food systems in turbulent times.

Advancing Knowledge and Policy

Sandro's contributions are not limited to his research. He also plays a significant role in facilitating academic discourse and policy discussions. By leading workshops and conferences on crucial topics like global value chains and economic sanctions, he helps advance the understanding of these complex issues among academics, policymakers, and industry professionals.

His work is a testament to the vital role of academic research in informing and shaping policies that affect the global agricultural landscape. His contributions are academically significant and have practical implications. They aid in developing informed, evidence-based policies and practices in agricultural economics.

Achievements, Recognitions, and Grants

Farm Foundation Fellowship

In 2024, Sandro was honored as the Farm Foundation Agricultural Economics Trade and Sustainability Fellow, a testament to his expertise and influence in international trade and agricultural policy. This fellowship acknowledges his past contributions and is a platform for future endeavors in understanding the complex interplay between trade, sustainability, and agriculture.

During this fellowship, he will focus on virtual water trade and the impact of trade policies, which is crucial for comprehending how trade and sustainability are interconnected and impact the food and agricultural sectors in the U.S. and globally. His role as the fourth Agricultural Economics Fellow follows in the footsteps of esteemed predecessors, emphasizing his significant position in the academic community.

In addition to his research, Dr. Steinbach plays a mentorship role, guiding participants in the Farm Foundation and USDA Economic Research Service Agricultural Scholars program. This aspect of the fellowship highlights his dedication to nurturing future scholars and professionals in agricultural economics.

Funding and Grants

Dr. Steinbach has an exceptional ability to secure funding, demonstrated by his success in acquiring over $6.7 million in research grants as a principal investigator (PI) and over $9.1 million as a co-PI and key personnel since 2018. His research studies range from global trade disruptions to agricultural policies and have engaged stakeholders and legislators at the state, regional, and national levels. His grantsmanship has supported numerous undergraduate and graduate students, and he has paved the way for the success of eight postdocs and research assistant professors, further emphasizing his role as a leader in agricultural economic research with national and international implications. Additionally, he has successfully led efforts to secure USDA funding to advance the undergraduate and graduate programs at NDSU.

NIFA Grant Involvement

One example of Sandro’s is his involvement with grants from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). These grants, totaling $900,000, are part of a larger $22 million investment by NIFA to support research that addresses global value chains, economic sanctions, agricultural trade, and the implications of geopolitical events on global agriculture.

Under these grants, Steinbach leads two significant projects. The first is a workshop focused on transforming agricultural global value chains, examining the link between agricultural trade and various policies. The second project is a conference centered on the effects of declining multilateralism and the rise of economic sanctions on global agriculture and trade.

Teaching the Next Generation of Agribusiness Leaders

Under the guidance of Dr. Steinbach, along with Dr. Cheryl Wachenheim and a team of faculty scholars, North Dakota State University (NDSU) is introducing an innovative program that blends agribusiness with big data analytics. This initiative, supported by a $262,500 grant from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, has the potential to revolutionize agricultural management and economics education.

Dr. Steinbach, who will serve as the program director, envisions this program as a significant step forward in combining agribusiness with the crucial field of data analytics. The initiative is set to advance agricultural technology and big data education at NDSU, equipping students with the skills necessary to address today's agricultural challenges.

This initiative goes beyond traditional classroom learning, providing students with hands-on research and opportunities to collaborate with industry. The program connects academia with practical application, enriching students' expertise and ensuring real-world impact. The project emphasizes knowledge generation and dissemination, contributing to the broader field of agribusiness.

Final Thoughts

Dr. Steinbach has demonstrated a solid commitment to advancing agricultural economics throughout his career, both in his role as Associate Professor and Director at NDSU and beyond. His research and teaching have contributed to the field, fostering new ideas and understanding. His involvement in global agricultural issues highlights his impact and dedication, positioning him as a key figure in addressing agricultural challenges.


The Sheila and Robert Challey Institute for Global Innovation and Growth aims to advance understanding in the areas of innovation, trade, institutions, and human potential to identify policies and solutions for the betterment of society. Learn more at


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