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Statement By Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer On The Death Of Former Secretary Earl Butz


We are saddened by the passing of former Secretary Earl Butz but grateful for his many contributions to agriculture during his long and productive life and his careers in government and academia.

Throughout his life, Earl Butz championed the cause of the farmer and was an optimist about American agriculture and the power of the marketplace.

He was also a pioneer who foresaw the opportunities that global markets could offer to America’s farmers long before they became a reality.

As Secretary of Agriculture, Butz insisted on giving farmers more freedom to manage their own businesses and more incentives to produce. He oversaw changes to government support programs that have helped create today’s robust agricultural economy. And by approving the sale of more than $1 billion of grain to the former Soviet Union in 1972, he raised farm incomes and set American farmers on the path to developing a stronger presence in export markets around the world.

Butz served as Secretary of Agriculture from 1971 to 1976 under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. He also served as Assistant Secretary for Marketing and Foreign Agriculture from 1954 to 1957 under President Dwight Eisenhower.

Earl Butz grew up on a family farm in Albion, Indiana and attended Purdue University on a 4-H scholarship, earning a bachelor’s degree in agriculture in 1932. He continued his studies and in 1937 became the first person to earn a Ph.D. in agricultural economics from Purdue. His studies began a lifelong association with Purdue as a faculty member and administrator that included serving as Dean of Purdue’s Agriculture Department from 1957 to 1967.

After leaving USDA in 1976, Butz returned to Purdue and embarked on a career as a lecturer and consultant whose views continued to be sought by agriculture groups in Indiana and around the world.

The entire USDA family extends its sympathies to the Butz family. In honor of his service, flags at USDA facilities will fly at half staff.

Ed Schafer

Secretary of Agriculture


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