Ed Schafer

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Ed Schafer
29th United States Secretary of Agriculture
In office
January 28, 2008 – January 20, 2009
President George W. Bush
Preceded by Mike Johanns
Succeeded by Tom Vilsack
30th Governor of North Dakota
In office
December 15, 1992 – December 15, 2000
Lieutenant Rosemarie Myrdal
Preceded by George Sinner
Succeeded by John Hoeven
Personal details
Born Edward Thomas Schafer
(1946-08-08) August 8, 1946 (age 70)
Bismarck, North Dakota, United States
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Nancy Jones Schafer
Children Tom Schafer
Ellie Schafer
Eric Jones (stepson)
Kari Jones (stepdaughter)
Alma mater University of North Dakota
University of Denver
Religion Episcopalian (currently attends First Lutheran Church in Fargo, ND where his wife is a member.)

Edward Thomas "Ed" Schafer (born August 8, 1946) served as the 29th United States Secretary of Agriculture from 2008 to 2009. He also served as the 30th Governor of North Dakota from 1992 to 2000. He served as interim president of the University of North Dakota from January to July, 2016.[1]

Early life, career, and family[edit]

Schafer was born and raised in Bismarck, North Dakota, and is the son of Marian Nelsen and businessman Harold Schafer. He is of German descent.[2] His sister, Pam Schafer, was the first wife of former Democratic-NPL U.S. Senator Kent Conrad.[3]

His educational background includes a bachelor's degree from the University of North Dakota, where he was a member of Sigma Nu fraternity, and an M.B.A. from the University of Denver. Following graduation, he went to work at the Gold Seal Company, a North Dakota-based manufacturing company owned by his father, eventually serving as company president from 1978 to 1985.

He is married to the former Nancy Jones and has two children: Tom Schafer and Ellie Schafer; and two stepchildren: Eric Jones and Kari Jones. He is the first North Dakota Governor to be married while in office. Schafer has also played an active role in the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation an organization which preserves the landmarks and legacy of the time that US 26th President, Theodore Roosevelt spent in and around Medora, North Dakota, between 1883 and 1889.

Ed was the captain of the "High Flyers" on the Discovery Channel TV show Junkyard Wars. Schafer was on during the fifth season of the show and won 2nd Place when the team lost to the "Jet Doctors" in the Season Five finale.

Governor of North Dakota[edit]

In 1990, Schafer unsuccessfully challenged then-U.S. Congressman Byron Dorgan's reelection bid capturing 35% of the vote, to Dorgan's 65%. He was elected as North Dakota's 30th Governor in 1992, and subsequently won reelection in 1996. He did not seek reelection in 2000. During his final year in office, he served as Chairman of the Republican Governors Association. In 1995 Schafer served as the Chairman of the Midwestern Governors Association.

In 2004, he declined to run for United States Senate against Dem-NPLer Byron Dorgan despite calls from national Republican leaders including then-President George W. Bush.

In 2002, Schafer was appointed as Civilian Aide to the United States Secretary of the Army. He also appeared in 2003 with his team, The High Flyers, as a contestant in the American TV Series Junkyard Wars. Schafer was formerly the CEO of Extend America, a start-up wireless communications company. He was a frequent guest host of the "Hot Talk" program on WDAY-AM in Fargo, North Dakota. Prior to his appointment to the cabinet, Schafer also served as an advisor and sometimes spokesperson for the North Dakota chapter of Americans for Prosperity, a nationwide limited-government/pro-growth organization.

Since Americans for Prosperity pulled out of North Dakota, Schafer has been supporting the North Dakota Taxpayers' Association as an advisor and keynote speaker.

Secretary of Agriculture[edit]

In October 2007 Schafer was nominated by then-President George W. Bush to be the next Secretary of Agriculture.[4] His hearing was originally scheduled for January 30, 2008, but was moved up on the request of North Dakota Senator Kent Conrad so that Schafer could attend the State of the Union address as a cabinet member.[5] The hearing was held on January 24; it was friendly,[6] with Senators asking Schafer questions on various topics such as US beef exports to Japan and South Korea, the Department of Agriculture's ability to deliver on programs passed by Congress, policy on sugar, and cotton prices.[7] On January 28, he was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate.[8][9]

Schafer was in office just several days when a major scandal concerning cruelty and unsafe food erupted in the wake of an investigation of the Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Company by the Humane Society of the United States. In late February, in testimony before a subcommittee of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Schafer took the position that there was no need for a ban on downed cattle in the food supply.[10]

President of the University of North Dakota[edit]

Former University of North Dakota president Robert Kelley announced his retirement in late 2015, and on January 14, 2016 he officially stepped down from the position. The following day, Schafer began his tenure as interim president of the University,[11] a position he accepted with some hesitancy.[12] Among the several dozen applications for the office received by the state, Schafer himself has stated he has no intent to apply to become the next president, and will serve in the office until an applicant is selected by the Board of Higher Education.[13] Among the tasks he inherited was the tail end of the Fighting Sioux naming issue; where he oversaw the choice of the new Fighting Hawks logo.[12] On March 15, 2016, Mark Kennedy was announced as the 12th president of the University of North Dakota.[14]

Electoral history[edit]

  • 1996 Race for Governor
  • 1992 Race for Governor
  • 1990 Race for U.S. House of Representatives - At Large


  1. ^ UPDATE: Schafer to serve as interim president at UND (Grand Forks Herald article-November 10, 2015)
  2. ^ Brooke, James. [1]. The New York Times. March 2, 1996. Retrieved December 10, 2012.
  3. ^ http://www.govexec.com/dailyfed/1007/103107cdpm2.htm
  4. ^ "President Bush Nominates Ed Schafer for Secretary of Agriculture" (Press release). White House. October 31, 2007. Retrieved January 25, 2008. 
  5. ^ Jalonick, Mary Clare. Schafer hearing to be held. AP. 2008-01-12. Accessed 2008-01-25. "I was talking to Gov. Schafer, and he said it'd be nice if he could be confirmed earlier so he could go to the State of the Union address as a member of the president's cabinet," Conrad said. "That's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."
  6. ^ Pates, Mikkel. Schafer gets a warm reception in Washington. Grand Forks Herald. 2008-01-25. Accessed 2008-01-25. "Schafer, who served as North Dakota governor from 1992 to 2000, made it through a decidedly friendly Senate Agriculture Committee confirmation hearing Thursday on Capitol Hill."
  7. ^ Tonneson, Lon. Senate Ag Committee Quizzes Schafer. Dakota Farmer. 2008-01-25. Accessed 2008-01-25."
  8. ^ Jalonick, Mary Clare (January 28, 2008). "Senate Confirms Secretary of Agriculture". AP. Retrieved January 28, 2008. [dead link]
  9. ^ Dan Morgan, “Analysis from Washington”- By Dan Morgan- Secretary Schafer
  10. ^ USDA Rejects 'Downer' Cow Ban - washingtonpost.com
  11. ^ "Ed Schafer starts as UND president Friday". www.valleynewslive.com. Retrieved 2016-01-16. 
  12. ^ a b "Unpacking a new president: Schafer takes over UND". Grand Forks Herald. Retrieved 2016-01-16. 
  13. ^ "Former Gov. Ed Schafer takes over as interim UND president | KSL.com". www.ksl.com. Retrieved 2016-01-16. 
  14. ^ Dakota, - The University of North. "State Board of Higher Education appoints Mark Kennedy UND president | 03 | 2016 | News | UND: University of North Dakota". und.edu. Retrieved 2016-03-16. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
George A. Sinner
Governor of North Dakota
1992 – 2000
Succeeded by
John Hoeven
Preceded by
Mike Johanns
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture
Served under: George W. Bush

2008 – 2009
Succeeded by
Tom Vilsack
Academic offices
Preceded by
Robert Kelley
President of the University of North Dakota


Succeeded by
Mark Kennedy