Richard Nixon photo

Remarks Announcing the Resignation of Clifford M. Hardin and Intention To Nominate Earl L. Butz as Secretary of Agriculture

November 11, 1971

Ladies and gentlemen:

I have come here today for the purpose of announcing a change in the Cabinet. Three months ago, Secretary Hardin came to see me and told me of an exceptionally attractive offer he had received in private business. As one who has spent his entire life in public service, either in education or in government, he felt this was an offer that he had to accept in the interest of his family and of their future. I urged him to delay his decision and to at least delay it until we were able to find someone that he felt and that we felt would be an adequate successor.

That decision now has been made, and regretfully--regretfully certainly as far as I am concerned--the Secretary will be resigning as the Secretary of Agriculture and will go into his private assignment which he, of course, will describe when he meets the ladies and gentlemen of the press, I understand, tomorrow.

I would like to say a word about the Secretary of Agriculture. I remember a conversation I had with Secretary Hardin in New York City before he took this position, and I was quite honest and blunt with him. I said nobody could be a popular Secretary of Agriculture. I told him what had happened to his predecessors in this position--the Benson years, the Freeman years.1 It didn't make any difference whether he was a Republican or a Democrat, it is very difficult to be popular in this position.

I said, however, we needed a man who would speak for American agriculture within the Cabinet and one who could speak to the Nation about the role that agriculture played and one who took not simply a national view but a world view of the great opportunities that agriculture has in the world.

Secretary Hardin has met every expectation that I had when I appointed him. As a man who said he knew nothing about politics, he really produced a political miracle by getting both parties and all the major farm organizations eventually to support the Agriculture Act--or at least not to oppose it---of 1970, and it was a very forward-looking piece of legislation in the field of agriculture.

In addition to that, he led the fight for the new program on hunger. Rather than 3 million people receiving food stamps, over 9 million, and perhaps 10 million now, receive them today. He led within the Administration and in his travels abroad--he has just returned from one trip--a major program to increase agricultural exports. They have been increased dramatically. And the last initiative, that was announced just a few days ago with regard to the sale of grain to the Soviet Union, was in great part due to the advocacy of the Secretary of Agriculture within the councils of the Administration.

Finally, there are many things that have happened on the organization side that I cannot go into because of time considerations, but I will say that from all accounts, he has run the Department with great skill, with great thoughtfulness, and has loyalty up and down the line from the many fine career employees in the Department of Agriculture. We will miss him. We will miss him not only because he has been a fine member of the Cabinet, but we will miss him because the Hardin family is very close to our Cabinet family and particularly close to the Nixon family. We are glad that they will be coming back from time to time and that he will be available for some assignments, I hope, on a nonpaying, at least, basis.

For his successor, we have gone to my mother's home State of Indiana. The successor as Secretary of Agriculture is not new to the Department. He served as the Assistant Secretary of Agriculture from 1954 to 1957 during President Eisenhower's period as President of the United States. He grew up on a farm. His whole life has been spent in agriculture. After he finished college, he operated a farm before going into the field that he has occupied with such distinction, except for his brief service in government of 3 years-the field of teaching in agriculture.

He is now professor of agricultural economics in Indiana, at Purdue, and he has had, also, distinctions far beyond that professorship as one of the top agricultural spokesmen in the country. He will be a vigorous advocate of the interest of the farmer and of agriculture within the President's Cabinet, just as Secretary Hardin has been. And we are delighted to have him and Mrs. Butz, who is no stranger to Washington, here in our Cabinet family taking the place of the Hardins.


Finally, I want to announce one change with regard to our reorganization plans, a change which has been vigorously advocated by the man who will serve as the new Secretary of Agriculture and also advocated by Secretary Hardin.

As you know, in our reorganization plans, the various activities of the Agriculture Department, many of which are peripheral to agriculture specifically, were divided and put into the other major Cabinet departments that are set up under the reorganization scheme.

We have now concluded that it is necessary to have a separate Department of Agriculture. However, not the old Department, but an entirely new one---one in which all of the peripheral activities will be transferred to other new departments, the Departments particularly of Community Development and of Natural Resources, and in which the new Department will concentrate exclusively on those problems which involve serving the farmer.

This new reorganization plan will be contained in a new proposal that will be sent to the Congress and, we trust, will be implemented by the Congress. We believe, incidentally, that this change will have very, very significant effect not only in reassuring the farm community but, perhaps just as important, in getting the necessary support that we need in the Congress to get action on our reorganization proposals. The community development proposals, the natural resources proposals are the two best candidates at the moment, and with this change having been made, we believe that the chance for overall success of approval of our various proposals has been greatly enhanced.

So, with that announcement, I think all of you would like to hear a word from Secretary Hardin. As I say, he will meet the press at the Department tomorrow to take your questions on his future and also on his stewardship of the Department, but I know he would like to say a word to the White House press corps before whom he has appeared on many occasions.
Secretary Hardin.

[At this point, Secretary Hardin spoke. The President then resumed speaking.]

Now, ladies and gentlemen, subject, of course, to the advice and consent of the Senate, the new Secretary of Agriculture, Earl Butz.

[At this point, Mr. Butz spoke. The President then resumed speaking.]

Thank you very much ladies and gentlemen, and we will leave you now to your stories.

1 Secretaries of Agriculture Ezra Taft Benson, 1953-61, and Orville L. Freeman, 1961-69.

Note: The President spoke at 4:05 p.m. in the Briefing Room at the White House.

The remarks of Secretary Hardin and Mr. Butz are printed in the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents (vol. 7, P. 1508).

On the same day, the White House released biographical data on Mr. Butz.

Richard Nixon, Remarks Announcing the Resignation of Clifford M. Hardin and Intention To Nominate Earl L. Butz as Secretary of Agriculture Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Filed Under




Washington, DC

Simple Search of Our Archives