Philip Raup, U farm expert with global role

  • Article by: TOM MEERSMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 27, 2011 - 8:19 PM

He advised land reform efforts around the world, taught generations of graduate students and never lost sight of the need for family farms.

Philip Raup, 97, a pioneering University of Minnesota scholar and consultant about agriculture, land use and economics for more than 50 years, died July 21.

Raup was a university professor of agricultural and applied economics from 1953 to 1984. His studies encompassed Europe, the former Soviet Union, North Africa and Asia, including India, Thailand and Taiwan.

He mentored hundreds of graduate students, some of whom have worked at the World Bank and in government and academia worldwide.

"Often as children we'd be driving on the highway and he'd pull over if he saw a farmer in the field and interview him directly," said his son Gordon, of Roseville. "He was a bit of a maverick, and felt it was really important to get the real facts down instead of second-sourcing other persons' summaries."

Raup was born and raised on a farm in western Kansas. He worked his way through college during the Great Depression by raising turkeys. He attended the University of Kansas and received an M.A. and Ph.D. in agricultural economics from the University of Wisconsin in Madison.

At Kansas he met and married Marian Louise Getter. She died in 2009.

Raup served in the U.S. Naval Reserve during World War II, supervising merchant marine shipping in the North Atlantic. As chief of the food and agriculture branch of the U.S. military government of Germany, he spent four years securing food for West Berlin and reforming land holdings in the U.S. occupation zone of West Germany.

"Feeding the German population in the period immediately following World War II was a challenge, and Phil played an important role in successfully meeting that challenge," said former University of Minnesota department head Wesley Sundquist at a retrospective on Raup's career in 1999.

Raup returned to the United States in 1949 to teach at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, and then at Minnesota.

He was active in land reform issues in Asia, Africa and Latin America, and served as a consultant to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome. A specialty was Soviet agriculture. After he retired he participated in study missions to the Soviet Union, Belarus and post-Soviet Russia.

Raup was a passionate advocate for family farms and raised concerns about policies that favored corporate agriculture at the expense of small farmers.

He served on Minnesota legislative commissions on tax policy, published annual reports on the rural real estate market in Minnesota from 1954 to 1993, and wrote and lectured about family farms.

Former colleagues said Raup was notorious for the boxes of reports, studies and other data that overflowed from his office. Graduate students often came to him for documents because he had far more on hand about Minnesota farm economics and foreign agriculture than libraries did.

Raup and his wife were active in the Twin Cities Alliance Française, the United Nations Association of Minnesota, and the St. Anthony Park United Church of Christ.

Raup is survived by another son, Philip Jr., of New York; daughter Martha, of Falcon Heights; three grandchildren; and two great grandchildren.

Visitation will be 4 to 8 p.m. Saturday in Roseville Memorial Chapel, 2245 Hamline Av. N., Roseville. Visitation also will be held Sunday, an hour before a 2 p.m. memorial service at St. Anthony Park United Church of Christ, 2129 Commonwealth Av., St. Paul.

Tom Meersman • 612-673-7388

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