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Ann M. Veneman
Former Secretary of Agriculture

Ann M. Veneman Ann M. Veneman was sworn in as the 27th Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on January 20, 2001. Her lifelong commitment to food and farm issues, along with her bipartisan approach to solving problems and confronting new challenges, are reasons that explain why she was chosen by President George W. Bush to serve in his Cabinet and unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

Growing up on a family farm in a small rural community, Ann Veneman understands well the issues important to America's farmers and ranchers. She has spent much of her career dedicated to food and agriculture issues and advancing sound U.S. farm and food policies.

President Bush has often said that the spirit of the American farmer is emblematic of the spirit of America, signifying the values of hard work, faith and entrepreneurship. Secretary Veneman believes strongly in these principles and since taking office, has worked to foster economic opportunities for farmers and ranchers, ensure a safe and wholesome food supply, protect agriculture against pests and diseases, encourage conservation and environmental stewardship, invest in rural communities, and support the next generation of agricultural leaders through new educational opportunities.

Secretary Veneman brought a wealth of knowledge and experience to the USDA. She is no stranger to managing the complexity of a large government agency and working with the Congress. Her management style encourages teamwork, innovation, and mutual respect in forging common sense solutions to issues facing American agriculture.

From 1991 to 1993, Veneman served as USDA's Deputy Secretary, the Department's second-highest position. She also served as Deputy Undersecretary of Agriculture for International Affairs and Commodity Programs from 1989 to 1991. Veneman joined the USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service in 1986 and served as Associate Administrator until 1989. From 1995 to 1999, Veneman served as Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), managing agricultural programs and services for the nation's largest and most diverse agricultural producing state.

Secretary Veneman's extensive background and experience has been valuable since taking office as American agriculture has confronted critical issues such as new farm policy, international trade, homeland security, environmental stewardship and food safety.

Within months of taking office, Secretary Veneman released the Bush Administration's vision for American agriculture through the publication of Food and Agricultural Policy: Taking Stock for the New Century. This publication outlines the Administration's priorities for farm sector policy, trade expansion, infrastructure enhancement, conservation and the environment, rural communities, nutrition and food assistance, and USDA program integration. The report, available on USDA's website at has received widespread praise for its candor and forward-looking vision.

Secretary Veneman had played a key role in eliminating trade barriers and expanding opportunities for American farmers through new export markets. She worked closely with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick, helping lead to the successful launch of a new round of trade negotiations for the World Trade Organization.

Following a devastating outbreak of foot and mouth disease in parts of Europe and the tragic events of September 11th, Secretary Veneman and her team acted swiftly to respond to potential threats and continues working to strengthen USDA's protection systems. The Secretary had been an advocate for strong pest and disease, food safety and research programs to ensure U.S. agriculture and consumers have a safe, wholesome food supply and the infrastructure to protect it.

Secretary Veneman had been a strong advocate of agriculture education and established the "Leaders of Tomorrow" initiative to strengthen USDA education programs, particularly those involved with mentoring young adults.

The Secretary earned her bachelor's degree in political science from the University of California, Davis, a master's degree in public policy from the University of California, Berkeley, and a juris doctorate degree from the University of California, Hastings College of Law. In a personal capacity, she serves as a board member of the Close Up Foundation, a nonpartisan civic education organization.