Appointee Directory

Edward T. Schafer -- Department of Agriculture

Ed Schafer was sworn in as the 29th Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on January 28, 2008. Secretary Schafer brings a record as an innovative two-term governor of North Dakota to USDA along with extensive private sector experience as both an entrepreneur and a business executive. As governor, Schafer managed a state workforce of 12,000 people, oversaw a budget of $4.6 billion, and led the state's response to emergencies such as the severe floods that hit the Grand Forks area in 1997. As chair of the Western Governors Association, Schafer led regional efforts to demonstrate how technology could improve the efficiency and lower the cost of delivering government services such as health benefits and food stamps. He also worked to make telemedicine more available and affordable in rural areas. Schafer was elected chair of the Republican Governors Association in 2000 and that same year he co-founded and co-chaired the Governors Biotechnology Partnership to increase public understanding and support for the benefits of agricultural biotechnology. He has had a lifelong interest in conservation and helped arrange the U.S. Forest Service's May 2007 purchase of the 5,200 acre Elkhorn ranch in North Dakota. The site was where Theodore Roosevelt had his home and operated a cattle ranch in the 1880s. It is near the preserved town of Medora-the state's leading tourist attraction. Born and raised in Bismarck, North Dakota, Schafer graduated from the University of North Dakota in 1969 with a bachelor's degree in Business Administration and earned an MBA from the University of Denver in 1970. Secretary Schafer's grandfather immigrated to North Dakota from Denmark and homesteaded land in Hettinger County that he turned into a wheat and livestock farm. Schafer spent summers there while growing up. He helped his uncles with chores, tinkered with engines and learned firsthand about agriculture. Before entering public life, Schafer was an executive with the Gold Seal Company in Bismarck, a successful marketer of nationally-known consumer products such as "Mr. Bubble" bubble bath, "Glass Wax" glass cleaner and "Snowy Bleach." The company had been founded by his father, Harold Schafer.

Edward T. Schafer