Magazine Feature / People

Alumnus Edward Schafer nominated as U.S. agriculture secretary

nominee and president

President George W. Bush shakes hands with former North Dakota Gov. Edward Schafer, his nominee for secretary of agriculture, during an announcement Oct. 31 at the White House. White House file photo.

President Bush has nominated DU alumnus Edward Schafer (MBA ’70) to become the next United States Secretary of Agriculture. Bush announced the nomination Oct. 31.

If confirmed, Schafer, a former two-term Republican North Dakota governor from 1992–2000, will replace Mike Johanns, who resigned as agriculture secretary in September to launch a bid for the Nebraska Senate.

The secretary of agriculture heads a Cabinet department of more than 100,000 employees. The Department of Agriculture develops policy on farming, agriculture and food. 

President Bush said in his nomination address that in order to carry out these responsibilities, the secretary “needs to be someone who understands the challenges facing America’s farmers, ranchers and consumers.”

Bush said Schafer’s experience with agriculture — as the grandson of Danish immigrant farmers and his experience with agricultural issues as governor — makes him exactly that person.

During his run as governor, Schafer worked to open new markets for North Dakota farmers and ranchers by expanding trade with China, oversaw initial development of the state’s biofuel industries and launched a project to revive rural communities by using technology to deliver education, health care and economic development. Agriculture is North Dakota’s leading industry.

Schafer is currently the CEO of Extend America, a wireless communications company. 

He will join another DU alum, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (BA ’74, PhD ’81), in the Cabinet. Two other DU alumni — Jim Nicholson (JD ‘72) and Gale Norton (BA ’75, JD ’78) — previously served the Bush administration as secretary of veterans affairs and interior secretary, respectively.

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