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Letter Accepting the Resignation of Clayton K. Yeutter as Secretary of Agriculture

January 25, 1991

Dear Clayton:

It is with deep regret that I accept your resignation as Secretary of Agriculture, effective March 1, 1991, although I am delighted that you will continue to be a part of my team as Chairman of the Republican Party. You have been an outstanding Secretary and an extraordinarily effective and productive member of my Administration.

As Secretary of Agriculture, you have pursued an agenda that will guarantee America's farmers continue to be second to none. Our farmers export one-third of all they produce, and you have worked tirelessly toward our mutual goal of further opening the world's markets to increase their opportunities in global trade.

The success of American agriculture is the envy of the world. It is, therefore, fitting and commendable that you and the Department of Agriculture have taken a leading and critical role in assisting Eastern Europe in its transition to a market-oriented economy.

I commend you for your tremendous effort in successfully negotiating the 1990 Farm Bill of which we can both be proud. It is a market-oriented bill that keeps our farmers competitive, keeps our rural areas environmentally sound, and lets farmers make more of their own production decisions. It also encourages crucial agricultural research and ensures a safe and wholesome food supply for all Americans.

I am also grateful for your many other important accomplishments, including supporting the development of alternative fuels; encouraging rural economic development; increasing opportunities for minorities and women at USDA; boosting the Women, Infants and Children and other food programs for those in need; and bringing balance and good common sense to a number of delicate food safety and environmental issues.

Confident of your tremendous ability and grateful for your service to our country, I am extremely pleased to know that you will assume the chairmanship of our great Party. I know the future of the Party is secure with your strong, capable leadership. Barbara and I wish you and Jeanne the very best as we continue to work together in meeting the great challenges that lie ahead.

Warmest personal regards.


George Bush

Dear Mr. President:

At this time I respectfully submit my resignation as Secretary of Agriculture, effective March 1, 1991, so that I may assume the chairmanship of the Republican National Committee.

During my service to you over the past two years my admiration for you and my respect for your extraordinary leadership and your exemplary human traits have only grown. These traits have all been vividly illustrated in the recent Persian Gulf crisis, which you have handled so admirably.

You have always encouraged your cabinet to pursue the challenges that most affect the American people. America's farmers have their share of challenges, but because of the groundwork laid by your market oriented policies, they are now better able to meet the future with optimism. You recognized the fundamental reforms needed in global agricultural trade when you asked me to serve as your Secretary of Agriculture. All of American agriculture is now poised to capitalize on these reforms when they come to fruition in the Uruguay Round and other negotiations. Mr. President, we are deeply grateful for your unwavering support in these efforts.

One of our major domestic accomplishments, achieved in cooperation with the Senate and House Agriculture Committees, was the 1990 Farm Bill, for it will guide our agricultural policies for the next 5 years. No farm bill in memory has been written under such complex circumstances. Not only was it necessary to project the needs of American agriculture over the ensuing 5 years, but we had to do so in the context of demanding budget realities, increasing global competition, heightened trade disputes, and the need for farmers to expand their roles as stewards of the environment. What emerged is not a perfect piece of legislation, but it is certainly a respectable work product that balances well innumerable sensitive and divergent interests.

The 1990 Farm Bill continues the market oriented approach of the 1985 Act through aggressive export assistance programs, increased research efforts, and added production flexibility for farmers. The new act also encourages tree plantings through your America the Beautiful initiative, and fosters our domestic food assistance programs that help so many needy Americans.

Reducing the federal budget deficit will bring benefits to all Americans, and particularly our nation's farmers. Although income supports will be reduced under the 1990 Deficit Control Act, our farmers will benefit greatly from the resulting lower interest rates and reduced inflation. In the long run they'll be better off, and so will future generations of farm families.

You have guided American foreign policy through two of the most tumultuous years in world history. The incredible changes in Eastern Europe have been fostered by your courageous and straight-forward approach, and we at USDA have pursued a facilitating role in the transition. From the day you asked that I lead a Presidential mission to Poland, we have sought to assist the region by providing the food, technical assistance, and training necessary to accomplish agricultural development and privatization.

On the home front, we have initiated an aggressive effort to expand opportunities for women, minorities and the disabled here at the Department of Agriculture. We now have in place a Workforce Diversity Program which will ensure that employees of the Department of Agriculture more closely reflect the composition of American society. And we've dramatically expanded our summer internship program for minority students.

From a managerial standpoint, we have developed and are implementing an Electronic Benefits Transfer Program which will improve the integrity and efficiency of our domestic food assistance programs, and we are upgrading our technology at the National Finance Center which services not only our payroll but many other agencies as well. We've become a lot more sophisticated everywhere these past 2 years.

Your Administration has faced a plethora of environmental challenges. Agriculture has been at the center of many of them, from wetlands to water quality, global change, and the protection of endangered species. We have sought to balance interests in this very sensitive area in a fair and rational way, and I believe we have done so.

Recognizing the economic and demographic hardships facing rural America, you created a Presidential Council on Rural Development. This Council met for the first time this week, and this group of outstanding leaders from business, government and academia will soon be providing you with their counsel on how best to ensure the future growth and viability of America's rural communities.

There are many other accomplishments here at USDA, most of them not attributable to me but to the fine team we've assembled here. That team exemplifies competence, and they'll continue to serve you well after my departure. From increasing our funding of research in the areas of food safety, the environment, and U.S. competitiveness, to assisting youth at risk in society as a whole, we have been motivated and guided by your leadership.

It has been a high privilege to have served you and the American people as Secretary of Agriculture. I now look forward with enthusiasm to the challenges and opportunities which lie ahead for the chairman of the Republican party.



Clayton Yeutter

George Bush, Letter Accepting the Resignation of Clayton K. Yeutter as Secretary of Agriculture Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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