Edward Schafer was the first and only North Dakotan to ever serve as United States Secretary of Agriculture. The U.S. Secretary of Agriculture is the head of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Ed Schafer was born and raised in Bismarck, but while growing up, he spent summers working on his grandparents’ farm in Hettinger County. After earning two college degrees, Schafer began working at the Gold Seal Company. This North Dakota business, which had been founded by his father, Harold Schafer, produced and sold household products throughout the United States. Ed Schafer served as president of the company for seven years.
In 1992, Ed Schafer was elected governor of North Dakota and was re-elected for another four-year term in 1996. During his eight years as governor, Ed Schafer encouraged the growth of agricultural industries in the state and worked to increase exports of North Dakota agricultural products to other countries. Governor Schafer also led efforts to provide high-speed internet access to farmers, ranchers, and small towns.
On October 31, 2007, President George W. Bush appointed Ed Schafer to head the United States Department of Agriculture. On January 28, 2008, the U.S. Senate approved the appointment. Ed Schafer served as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture until January 20, 2009.
In 2010, Ed Schafer was honored for his service to agriculture by being inducted into the North Dakota Agriculture Hall of Fame.