March 2015
Spudman 7: Paul Patterson

Paul Patterson is an Extension professor and agricultural economist with the Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology for the University of Idaho. He has worked for the University of Idaho for 33 years, the past 31 years as an Extension farm management specialist in southern Idaho.

In 2009, he received the U of I College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Distinguished Alumni award and the Pat Takasugi Agricultural Leadership award in 2014.

He received the Heritage Award from the Snake River Cutthroat Chapter of Trout Unlimited in 2014 for his many years of work on conservation projects.

Although frequently quoted in a wide range of agricultural and popular press publications and three times in the Wall Street Journal, his claim to fame is likely being the only agricultural economist ever quoted in Rolling Stone in an article about the potato industry by Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation.”

What are the best words of advice you’ve received?

Keep your mind open and your mouth shut. Unfortunately, I didn’t heed this advice as often as I should have.

What are your goals for the next 12 months?

Finish up several projects at work, including an update of the Idaho Custom Rates Guide. Fish some place new this summer, and hopefully a whitewater raft trip if I can draw a permit. And this fall I would like to spend the month of November camping in my wall tent and hunting elk – assuming I can draw a tag.

What do you do to relax?

After staring at a computer screen most of the day, I need physical activity of some kind, so it depends on the season. Hiking, backpacking and fishing in the summer; cross country skiing or snowshoeing in the winter. I ran for over 30 years and that was the best stress reducer. But I’ve got a knee that won’t let me run any more.

What would you like to be your lasting legacy?

That I was an unbiased source of timely economic information that was useful to the potato industry.

What job or work would you have pursued if you had not become involved in the potato industry?

Well, if I hadn’t of gotten a job with the University of Idaho, I probably would have been working for an ag bank or Farm Credit Services as a loan officer or appraiser.

What are three things on your bucket list/must do list?

Mostly visit places that I have never been.

1) Visit Glacier National Park.

2) Visit the redwoods and giant sequoias in California.

3) Visit New England to see the fall colors.

What is the one truth you have learned about the potato industry?

It’s always changing and it is never boring.

75 Applewood Dr. Ste. A
P.O. Box 128
Sparta, MI 49345


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