Paul F. Taggart, 78, a retired official with the Agriculture Department's Foreign Agricultural Service, died Tuesday at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda after a heart attack.

He retired in 1970 as area officer for the Far East and South Asia, a position he had held since 1964. Before that, he had been area officer for Latin America for three years.

Mr. Taggart joined the Agriculture Department in 1929 as a county extension agent in Nebraska. He later was with the Farm Security Administration in the Midwest.

After serving with the U.S. Army in World War II, he became civilian chief of the food, agriculture and forestry branch in the office of the U.S. military government in Stuttgart, Germany.

He came to Washington in 1951 to work for the Foreign Operations Administration and joined the Foreign Agriculture Service four years later.

During 1957-61, Mr. Taggart was assistant agricultural attache at the U.S. Embassy in Bonn.

He was born in Chambers, Neb., and was a graduate of the University of Nebraska.

He was a Mason and member of the Fossils and the Potomac Valley Country Club.

He is survived by his wife, Louise E., of the home in Bethesda; a son, J. Mark, of Boulder, Colo.; a daughter, Donna Louise McKinney of Littleton, Colo.; a brother, Dr. S. Ross Taggart of Washington, and five grandchildren.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the Heart Fund.