Arthur Anderson, 89, a retired agricultural economist who served for more than 40 years with the Department of the Interior, the Department of Agriculture and the University of Nebraska, died of cancer Thursday at Montgomery General Hospital in Olney.

Dr. Anderson, who moved to Washington in 1946 and who had lived in the Rossmoor Leisure World in Silver Spring since 1967, was born on a farm in David City, Neb. He graduated from the University of Nebraska school of agriculture in 1916. He then began a career as a teacher at the university and as an official of the extension service of the Department of Agriculture. He earned a master's degree at Nebraska in 1923 and a doctorate at Ohio State in 1932.

He remained at the University of Nebraska and with the agriculture extension service until 1946. In that year he joined the Interior Department in Washington as an agricultural economist. He retired in 1959.

In 1961 and 1962, he traveled to Cuba and to East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, as a private consultant on agricultural projects.

Dr. Anderson was the author of more than 40 publications in the field of agricultural economics.

During World War I, he served in the Army in France and received the Purple Heart.

He was a member of the Lincoln, Neb.M branch of the American Legion for 59 years. He also was a member of the Sons of the American Revolution, the Huguenot Society, the Sigma Xi honorary agricultural society, the Kiwanis and the Fossils. He was a 32d degree Mason and a founder of the Interfaith Chapel at Rossmoor Leisure World.

Survivors include his wife, Gretchen Haslam Anderson, of the home at Rossmoor; a son, George A., a physician in Jacksonville, Fla.; a daughter, Elizabeth Anderson Kerwin, a physician in Hancock, N.H.; five grandchildren, and one great-granddaughter.