Miller Center

American President

A Reference Resource

Ed Schafer (2008–2009): Secretary of Agriculture

Ed Schafer was born on August 8, 1946, and raised in Bismarck, North Dakota. He received a bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of North Dakota in 1969, and in 1970 he received an MBA from the University of Denver.

Schafer began his career at the Gold Seal Company, a marketing company that was founded by his father. He held a number of management positions at Gold Seal, and in 1978 he became President. Under his leadership, the company's sales climbed considerably; the company was sold in 1986. Schafer then became an entrepreneur, launching several new businesses.

From 1992 to 2000, Schafer served two terms as governor of North Dakota. During his tenure, he expanded and diversified North Dakota's economy, advanced agriculture, and led initiatives to upgrade the state's communications infrastructure. During his last year in office, Schafer was the chair of the Republican Governors Association. After leaving office in 2000, he co-founded Extend America to provide wireless data services to five rural Midwestern states.

On January 28, 2008, Schafer was sworn in as the twenty-ninth secretary of the Department of Agriculture.