28 December 2008 - The Secretary of Agriculture Sez

As we come to the end of another year I continue a tradition that has been a part of my schedule every year now for more than 30 years. In December, I travel to Washington, DC, sit down in the office of the Secretary of Agriculture, and talk to the Secretary about significant events in the year just ending and look ahead to the new year.

Part of that visit includes Samuelson Sez, except this one time a year I retitle it The Secretary Sez. A few days ago I was in the office with Ed Shafer, former Governor of North Dakota who was sworn in as Secretary January 28, 2008 and who will leave the office January 20, 2009. Toward the end of our visit, I said to Secretary Shafer Okay, its your turn, The Secretary Sez.

This was his response....Well, one of the things that has been so important to me here is to learn the strength of agriculture. Heading up the United States Department of Agriculture reminds me when Abraham Lincoln founded the USDA, he said its the peoples department. He called it the peoples department because it affects so many peoples lives in so many different ways. As I look at that from this perch of Secretary of Agriculture, I understand the strength that agriculture brings to this country.

As we now see a renewal or revival in agriculture as things are moving in, more importantly the energy field, we see that strength come back, not only in the economy but what agriculture delivers as human beings to the foundation of the United States; a hard work ethic, an honesty, a courage; a lending of hand to a neighbor; lend a helping hand to someone in need. Those kinds of things are the foundation of this country. It comes from agriculture; it comes from working the land. I am so pleased to be able to understand and feel that strength of agriculture, because I know it is the foundation of what made this country great.

The Secretary Sez, the thoughts of Secretary of Agriculture Ed Shafer as he prepares to leave that office and move back to his home in North Dakota.

One of my fond memories of the Secretary will be sitting on the outdoor stage with him at the Farm Progress Show in Boone, Iowa last August listening to him respond to questions from the audience, handling each one with grace and intelligence. Personally, I would echo what the Secretary said; it is, indeed, a privilege for me 365 days a year to serve the most important minority in the world, YOU, the American farmer and rancher. Thank you for letting me be a part of your life every week.

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez.