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Paarlberg, Don, 1911-2006



  • Existence: 1911 - February 14, 2006

Biographical Information

Don Paarlberg, farmer, professor, researcher, author, and administrator, was born in Oak Glen, Illinois in 1911, but grew up on a farm near Crown Point, Indiana. He farmed for eight years before attending Purdue, where he received his bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics in 1940. He then continued his education and received his masters and doctorate degrees from Cornell University in agricultural economics in 1943 and 1946 respectively. After receiving his Ph.D., he returned to Purdue as an assistant professor in 1946 to teach agricultural economics. He became a full professor in 1952. Paarlberg was a faculty member at Purdue from 1946 to 1953, 1961 to 1969, and again from 1973 to 1975.

Between his teaching stints at Purdue, Paarlberg held federal appointments, beginning in 1953, under Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard M. Nixon, and Gerald R. Ford. He also served as economic adviser to four secretaries of agriculture: Ezra T. Benson, Clifford M. Hardin, Earl L. Butz, and John A. Knebel. In 1953 he was appointed economic advisor to Secretary of Agriculture Ezra Taft Benson and secretary of the National Agriculture Advisory Committee. He was appointed assistant secretary of agriculture in 1957, and in 1958 was named special assistant to President Dwight D. Eisenhower. He was instrumental in the development of the Food for Peace Program and was named its coordinator from 1958 to 1961. In the early to mid-1970s he was the Agriculture Department’s chief economist. He also served as an advisor to the Ford Foundation.

In 1951 Paarlberg was an American delegate to the International Conference of Agricultural Economics at Stressa, Italy. He also served as secretary-treasurer of the American Farm Economic Association from 1952-1953. He was a member of the International Conference of Agricultural Economists, the American Statistical Association, the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers, the Indiana Academy of Science, Alpha Zeta, and Tau Kappa Alpha.

Paarlberg wrote nine books and numerous articles on economics as well as farm and food policy. His books include Toward a Well-Fed World (1988), An Analysis and History of Inflation (1993), and The Agricultural Revolution of the 20th Century (2000).

Awards he received include the Sigma Delta Chi Best Teacher Award in 1962, the D. Howard Doane Award in 1966 from the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers, the Federal Land Bank Commemorative Medal for Outstanding Service to Agriculture in 1967, the Award for Outstanding Teaching Performance at Purdue University in 1969, and the Order of the Griffin Award from Purdue President Martin Jischke in 2002. He was named a Hillenbrand Distinguished Professor in 1961 and a fellow of the American Agricultural Economics Association in 1971, and received the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Distinguished Service to Agriculture Award in 1995.

Paarlberg retired from teaching in 1975.


"Don Paarlberg, 94, Agricultural Economics Adviser to 3 Presidents, Is Dead," February 20, 2006. New York Times.


Purdue Agriculture. “Don Paarlberg: 1911-2006.” Purdue Agriculture Connections, 15, no. 2 (2006).

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Don Paarlberg papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSF 445
Scope and Contents The Don Paarlberg papers contain writings, letters, memoirs, and poems of Don Paarlberg on foods, farming, and other subjects.
Dates: 1964 - 2001