Ph.D., Economics (Agricultural Economics), Iowa State University, 1979
Areas of Interest
Farm Management, Food Security, Production Economics
Dr. Olson’s research has emphasized farm level management issues such as production efficiency, the interaction between farming and the environment, decision-making, and the impact of government policies. Besides whole-farm analysis, his research has concentrated on crops (mainly, maize, soybean, wheat, rice, cotton, alfalfa, and rangeland). He is currently studying the impact of the 2014 farm bill on farmers’ choices in crop production; the internal value farmers place on crop residue in Eastern Africa and South Asia; characteristics of top performing farms, and efficiency and productivity of Minnesota farms.
Honors and Awards
Dean’s Award for Distinguished Extension Team, University of Minnesota Extension, 2007
Distinguished Teaching Award (tenured category), College of Agricultural, Food, and Environmental Sciences, University of Minnesota, 2003
Outstanding Faculty Award, Agriculture Education Club, University of Minnesota, 2002
John Tate Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Advising, University of Minnesota, 1998
Graduate with Honors, Iowa State University, 1974
Phi Kappa Phi, Iowa State University, 1974
Gamma Sigma Delta, Iowa State University, 1974
Iowa Farmer, Future Farmers of America, 1970
Extension and Outreach
Dr. Olson’s extension and outreach work focuses on farm management issues. He develops educational materials and decision tools to help farmers choose which options are best for them within the U.S. farm bill. He has written a set of information sheets describing the options and is developing educational materials for farmer and agricultural professionals. In response to the wet spring in 2013, he analyzed farmers’ options and choices under crop insurance regarding prevented planting, adapted an analysis package and made it available on the web and press release. He has spoken on topics such as “Trends, Issues, Threats, and Opportunities Affecting Farmers” and “The Good, Bad, and Ugly: Helping Solve Hunger in the World” to public audiences. Due to a rapid decrease in crop prices, many farmers were facing an extreme squeeze between low income and high rents so Dr. Olson developed an analysis package for a spreadsheet and made it available on the web.