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Former Secretary of Agriculture
Mike Johanns was sworn in as the 28th Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on January 21, 2005.
Secretary Johanns' strong agricultural roots stretch back to his childhood. He was born in Iowa and grew up doing chores on his family's dairy farm. As the son of a dairy farmer, he developed a deep respect for the land and the people who work it. He still describes himself as "a farmer's son with an intense passion for agriculture."
That passion showed during Johanns' tenure as Nebraska's 38th governor. During his six years in office, Johanns was a strong advocate for rural communities and farmers and ranchers. He enacted a Value-Added Agriculture Initiative, signed into law the "Agricultural Opportunities and Value-Added Partnership Act," supported the development of a hydroponic produce facility, and signed legislation that focused financial resources on providing transferable, non-refundable gas tax credits for the production of ethanol. He also led eight delegations of Nebraska government, business, and agriculture leaders on trade missions to foreign countries including Japan, Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, Australia, Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Brazil and Chile.
Johanns served as chairman of the Governors' Biotechnology Partnership and as the state government representative on the advisory committee to the Export-Import Bank of the United States. As a member of both the National Governors' Association and the Western Governors' Association, Johanns concentrated on issues important to agriculture, including drought relief, ethanol, and the 2002 Farm Bill.
Secretary Johanns is a graduate of St. Mary's University of Minnesota in Winona. He earned a law degree from Creighton University in Omaha and practiced law in O'Neill and Lincoln, Nebraska. Johanns served on the Lancaster County Board from 1983-1987, and on the Lincoln City Council 1989-1991. He was elected mayor of Lincoln in 1991. He was reelected in 1995, and successfully ran for governor three years later.
Secretary Johanns is married to Stephanie Johanns, a former Lancaster County Commissioner and State Senator. The couple has two children.