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Fact Sheet: Ed Schafer: A Record of Leadership in Agriculture and Business

October 31, 2007

President Bush Nominates Former Two-Term North Dakota Governor To Serve As U.S. Agriculture Secretary

Today, President Bush announced his intention to nominate Edward T. Schafer to serve as the next U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. The grandson of Danish immigrants who farmed throughout their lives, Governor Schafer gained extensive experience with the agriculture industry during two terms as North Dakota's governor. Agriculture is North Dakota's leading industry. According to the North Dakota Agriculture Department, nearly 24 percent of North Dakota workers are farmers and ranchers or are employed in farm-related jobs.

  • If confirmed, Gov. Schafer will head the U.S. Department of Agriculture in its mission of providing leadership on food, agriculture, natural resources, and related issues. USDA is charged with providing financing to help expand job opportunities and improve housing, utilities, and infrastructure in rural America; enhancing food safety; improving nutrition and health; and managing and protecting America's public and private lands, working cooperatively with other levels of government and the private sector. USDA also works with other agencies to expand markets for agricultural products, support international economic development, and further develop alternative markets for agricultural products and activities.

Gov. Schafer's Experience Working With North Dakota's Agriculture Industry Makes Him Well-Qualified To Lead USDA

Gov. Schafer served as governor of North Dakota from 1992 to 2000. He was elected to his first term by a margin of 17 percent and was re-elected to a second term four years later by a margin of 32 percent, becoming the first Republican elected to a second term in the state's history.As governor, he managed a $4.6 billion budget with 12,000 employees. During his two terms, Gov. Schafer:

  • Effectively directed state response to eight statewide disasters, including drought, flood, and fire. This included historic flooding and fire in Grand Forks in 1997, which led to the evacuation of tens of thousands of North Dakota residents.
  • Launched a successful pilot project to revive rural communities by using technology to deliver education, healthcare, and economic development. The Centers of Excellence in Rural America project was jointly run by North Dakota and Wyoming to help create a network of small rural towns deploying affordable, high-speed telecommunications services.
  • Gained extensive experience dealing with grain and livestock import issues.
  • Led an agricultural trade mission from North Dakota to China in 2000 to help open new markets for North Dakota farm products. Earlier in 2000, Gov. Schafer also represented the United States with Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman on a Presidential Delegation to China to promote Permanent Normal Trading Relations.
  • Oversaw initial development of North Dakota's biofuel industries.
  • Led in developing value-added products for agriculture. These efforts helped provide economic security for farmers by creating opportunities beyond working solely as producers.

Gov. Schafer Is An Experienced Leader Of Regional And National Organizations

In 1999, Gov. Schafer served as the co-lead on agriculture for the National Governors Association. He also served as chair of the National Governors Association Economic Development Committee in 1999.

Gov. Schafer was co-founder and co-chair of the Governors Biotechnology Partnership, established in 2000. This partnership was founded to increase public understanding and support for the benefits of agricultural biotechnology.

Gov. Schafer served as the chair of the Republican Governors Association in 2000. He also served as the Chair of the Western Governors' Association in 1997 and Chair of the Midwest Governors' Conference and the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission in 1995.

Gov. Schafer became president of the Gold Seal Company in 1978. Gov. Schafer's father founded this North Dakota-based household cleaning and personal care products company, where Gov. Schafer began his career working in the mailroom at age 14. Returning after his graduation, Gov. Schafer eventually became President of the company, a position in which he served from 1978 to 1985.

Gov. Schafer earned a bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of North Dakota in 1969 and an MBA from the University of Denver in 1970.

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING: "A Popular Governor" Whose Terms Were "Pivotal In North Dakota's History"

The Associated Press: "His energy, friendliness and optimism, Schafer's political friends and foes both agree, has made him a popular governor." (Dale Wetzel, "Older And Grayer, But Governor Says He's Still The Same Schafer," The Associated Press, 12/10/00)

The Bismarck Tribune: "North Dakota Gov. Ed Schafer leaves office today a successful governor. He won the affection of North Dakotans for the way he went about his work. He actually gained popularity during his two terms..." (Editorial, The Bismarck Tribune, 12/14/00)

  • The Bismarck Tribune: "The state is better off for Ed Schafer having been governor…" (Editorial, "A Shocker, But Schafer Calls It Right," The Bismarck Tribune, 10/3/99)
  • The Bismarck Tribune's Tim Fought: "Historians will look at his two terms as pivotal in North Dakota's history, politics and government…" (Tim Fought, "Schafer Leaving Office On A High Note, The Bismarck Tribune, 10/3/99)

Representative Earl Pomeroy (D-ND): "I give the governor very high marks for his responsiveness and his willingness to drop everything and call whomever whenever I suggested that kind of call was necessary. We were able to work really as a team. ... It was a pleasure working with him on these [disaster-related] issues."(Don Davis, "Disasters Improve Relations Between Politicians," The Bismarck Tribune, 6/1/97)

Former Iowa Governor Terry Branstad: Gov. Schafer "'is well liked and respected by his colleagues. … He has turned this state around.' He said North Dakotans have changed over the last four years during Schafer's term. They are upbeat and excited about Schafer's administration." (Heather Ratcliff, "[Iowa] Governor Stumps For Schafer," The Bismarck Tribune, 7/27/96)

Former Secretary Of Agriculture And Former Nebraska Governor Mike Johanns: "Ed is just first class. … What you see with Ed is what you get." (Dale Wetzel, "Fund-Raisers, Meetings And Talk: Schafer Works GOP Convention," The Associated Press, 8/4/00)

  • Gov. Johanns: "Schafer has been a leader in developing value-added products for agriculture, Johanns said." ("Governor Announces Agriculture Conference," The Associated Press, 2/10/00)

George W. Bush, Fact Sheet: Ed Schafer: A Record of Leadership in Agriculture and Business Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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