What do North Dakota, anthropology, Washington, D.C., and farming have in common?
The answer: Miles Patrie.
The North Dakota native was recently appointed to join the staff of the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C., as a confidential assistant with the Risk Management Agency.
Submitted Photo •
Miles Patrie works on his family’s farm near Bowden.
In his new position, Patrie works with the risk management administrator to implement and oversee federal crop insurance programs and other management tools under the agency's jurisdiction.
"I was overjoyed (at getting the news of his appointment) and excited to work at the USDA because I have wanted to work with the agency for a long time," he said.
Like many other Dakotans, Patrie grew up on a farm near Bowdon where his family operated an 80-head cow-calf operation and raised small grains like wheat, barley and soybeans. An interesting twist to the Patrie "typical" farm was their 5-acre "you-pick" raspberry patch where people could come for the nearly forgotten experience of picking their own food from the field. What wasn't picked was transformed into homemade jam by the family and sold along the state's highways.
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Turning away slightly from agriculture, Patrie studied anthropology at North Dakota State University, Fargo, focusing on the cultural and social aspects of humankind. "(The experience) provided a useful perspective in looking at societies in different times and it gave me some perspective on how the world has changed in just a few millennia," he said.
A year after graduating from NDSU with a bachelor's degree, Patrie served as a Bill Emerson National Hunger Fellow and spent six months in 2005 in Santa Fe, N.M., conducting a food gap assessment before traveling to Washington, D.C., to analyze rural development and anti-hunger policies.
"Having grown up in a rural area, I know there's a big outmigration problem so we looked at ways food could help to provide a solution," Patrie said. "A lot of people go hungry every day and many rural communities suffer in larger amounts so that's why it's very important to have good rural policies and good anti-hunger policies."
Coming back to the grits of agriculture, Patrie joined Sen. Kent Conrad's team in 2006 as a legislative assistant and did work on the 2008 Farm Bill.
"My experiences back on the farm provided the context for the issues going on then," he said. "Realizing that the policy enacted in D.C. affects all small communities, I believe the farm bill will provide a bright future and profitability for farmers and the rural communities they live in."