WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate confirmed former North Dakota Gov. Ed Schafer as the country’s next secretary of agriculture Jan. 28.
Schafer gained experience with agricultural issues during two terms as North Dakota’s governor from 1992-2000.
Bob Stallman, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, said Schafer’s experience with grain and livestock import issues, as well as his understanding of ethanol and biodiesel, are among his many strengths.
“As trade negotiations on farm goods continue, we offer our support for his efforts to open important new markets,” Stallman said.
In 1999, Schafer served as the co-lead on agriculture for the National Governors Association, and in 2000 led an agricultural trade mission from North Dakota to China to help open new markets for his state’s farm products.
Schafer, who holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of North Dakota and a master of business administration from the University of Denver, most recently was CEO of Extend America, a start-up wireless communications firm.
He also was president of the Gold Seal Co., a household products company founded by his father, and he founded Fish ‘N Dakota, a fish farming business near Beulah, N.D.
One of Schafer’s first tasks as the secretary of agriculture will be to help get a farm bill through a House-Senate conference committee that’s trying to work out differences in competing bills.
The National Pork Producers Council has expressed strong support for the new secretary of agriculture.
“America’s pork producers will strongly support Secretary Schafer as he tackles issues of importance to the U.S. hog industry, including trade agreements, animal identification and the farm bill,” said Jill Appell, National Pork Producers Council president.
R-CALF USA members were also enthusiastic about the new secretary of agriculture.
“We’re hoping he’ll help independent cattle producers help their communities by making the necessary reforms in the farm bill that would restore competition and transparency to the marketplace,” said Max Thornsberry, President/Region VI director.
Tom Buis, National Farmers Union president, said Schafer worked closely with North Dakota Farmers Union during his tenure as governor.
“His time as governor of North Dakota, a state with a large agriculture economy, has given him an understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing family farmers, ranchers and consumers in the countryside,” Buis said.
President Bush announced Schafer’s nomination Oct. 31. He is replacing former secretary of agriculture Mike Johanns, who resigned Sept. 20 to run for a seat in the U.S. Senate.