Bush nominates former governor as USDA secretary

President Bush nominated Ed Schafer, former governor of North Dakota, to be secretary of the Agriculture Department.

He replaces Mike Johanns, who left USDA in September to return to Nebraska to run for the Senate seat of retiring Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.). Deputy Secretary Chuck Connor has been acting secretary in the interim. The Senate must decide whether to confirm Schafer.

In his nominating remarks, Bush said he will look to Schafer to work with Congress to pass the Farm Bill and continue to open trade for U.S. farm products in trade negotiations and new markets.

“Ed Schafer is the right choice to fill this post,” Bush said Oct. 31. During his two terms as governor from 1992 to 2000, Schafer worked to open new markets for North Dakota products by expanding trade with China and oversaw development of the state’s agricultural biofuels industry.

As governor, he directed the response to eight statewide disasters, including droughts, floods and fires. He also launched a program to revive rural communities by using technology to deliver education, health care and economic development, White House officials said. North Dakota and Wyoming jointly ran the Centers of Excellence in Rural America project to help create a network of small rural towns deploying affordable, high-speed telecommunications services.

Until recently, Schafer was chief executive officer of Extend America, which he co-founded in 2002, to provide wireless, high-speed Internet in North Dakota.

Schafer received his bachelor's degree from the University of North Dakota and his master’s degree from the University of Denver.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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