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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
October 31, 2007
President Bush Nominates Ed Schafer for Secretary of Agriculture
2:05 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all; be seated. Good afternoon. I'm proud to announce my nomination of Ed Schafer to be the next Secretary of Agriculture.
The Secretary of Agriculture heads a Cabinet department of more than 100,000 employees. I rely on the Secretary to provide sound advice on issues ranging from our nation's farm economy and food supply to international trade and conservation programs. To carry out these responsibilities, the Secretary of Agriculture needs to be someone who understands the challenges facing America's farmers, ranchers and consumers.
Ed Schafer is the right choice to fill this post. He was a leader on agricultural issues during his eight years as the governor of North Dakota. He worked to open new markets for North Dakota farmers and ranchers by expanding trade with China. He oversaw the development of the state's agricultural biofuels industry. He helped families recover from natural disasters -- including drought, fires and floods. And he pioneered innovative programs to increase economic opportunity in rural communities.
Ed also has extensive management experience in the private sector. Before running for public office, he was the president of the family-owned business that his dad started. He's also launched a number of entrepreneurial ventures of his own. At every stage of his career, Ed has shown wisdom, foresight and creativity. Those same qualities will make him a valuable member of my Cabinet, and they will make him a trusted friend to America's farmers and ranchers.
Ed's passion for agriculture has deep roots. His maternal grandparents were Danish immigrants who worked as farmers on the plains of North Dakota. Ed has always kept their story close to his heart. And they'd be proud to see their grandson rise to become our nation's top agriculture official.
In his new job, Ed will carry on the work of another fine public servant, Mike Johanns. Mike became Secretary of Agriculture at the beginning of my second term. During his time in office, he helped open new markets for trade, promoted renewable fuels and conservation and provided timely assistance to our farmers and ranchers devastated by natural disasters. Mike leaves a legacy of integrity and dedication. And Laura and I wish Mike and his wife, Stephanie, all the best on their return home to Nebraska.
I also thank my friend, Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Chuck Conner, for serving as Acting Secretary during this time of transition. Chuck grew up on a family farm in Indiana. He has a deep knowledge of agricultural issues. He's done an outstanding job. Appreciate the fact that you will remain as Acting Secretary until the Senate confirms Ed as Mike Johanns's permanent replacement. Thank you for joining us today.
Following Mike is not going to be easy -- but Ed Schafer is up to the challenge. With Ed's leadership, we will work with Congress to pass a farm bill that provides farmers with a safety net, protects our lands and the environment and spends federal tax dollars wisely. Ed will also join other members of my administration to continue leveling the playing field for America's farm products by concluding the Doha Round of trade negotiations. And he and I will continue to work hard to open up new markets for American beef.
As Ed takes on these new challenges, he will rely on the support of his caring family. Ed is blessed with a wonderful wife, Nancy, who came from North Dakota today. He is also blessed with four children and eight grandchildren. Their love will give Ed the strength to serve our country in his new capacity.
I urge the Senate to swiftly confirm Ed Schafer as the 29th Secretary of Agriculture. I look forward to having this good and decent man as a member of my Cabinet. Congratulations.
MR. SCHAFER: Thank you, Mr. President. It is an honor to stand beside you today to accept this assignment. I appreciate the confidence that you have in me, and if I am confirmed, I'm looking forward to serving you and the people of the United States of America in your Cabinet as Secretary of Agriculture.
It is humbling to follow my friend, Secretary Johanns, into this position. And I hope that I can live up to the high standards of performance that he set at the agency. I'm also looking forward to working with you, Deputy Secretary Chuck Conner, who has faithfully served as the interim Secretary.
And if I am honored with a Senate confirmation, it will be a great pleasure to join forces with the dedicated, talented and loyal employees of the USDA to enhance our country's vibrant agriculture economy, to advance renewable energy and protect America's food supply, improve nutrition and health, and conserve our natural resources.
As you mentioned, Mr. President, my spouse, my true friend and the love of my life, Nancy, is here with us today, and I want to thank you, my dear, for all your support and encouragement and love that has been the driving force in my life.
I'm extremely proud of my heritage, and I would like to thank our grandparents and parents and children -- in fact, our whole family -- for the warm loving embrace in which you hold me always.
I also want to recognize the people of the great state of North Dakota. Throughout the years, they have supported, encouraged and nurtured me, and that has been tremendously uplifting.
Mr. President, I come from an agriculture state, as do you. Growing up in that arena, and focusing now on the USDA, I realize that the mission of this agency goes far beyond the services delivered to the preservation of a way of life that I believe is the foundation of this country.
I thank you again for the opportunity to serve the people of the United States, and if confirmed, I will do my very best to promote, preserve and enhance the mission of the United States Department of Agriculture.
It is my honor to serve this great country, and I thank God for guiding me here today. May he bless you, Mr. President, and may God bless America.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, sir.
END 2:13 P.M. EDT