Robert Bergland

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Bob Bergland
Robert Bergland - USDA portrait.jpg
20th United States Secretary of Agriculture
In office
January 23, 1977 – January 20, 1981
PresidentJimmy Carter
Preceded byJohn Knebel
Succeeded byJohn Block
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Minnesota's 7th district
In office
January 3, 1971 – January 22, 1977
Preceded byOdin Langen
Succeeded byArlan Stangeland
Personal details
Robert Selmer Bergland

(1928-07-22)July 22, 1928
Roseau, Minnesota, U.S.
DiedDecember 9, 2018(2018-12-09) (aged 90)
Roseau, Minnesota, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Helen Grahn
(m. 1950)
EducationUniversity of Minnesota, Twin Cities

Robert Selmer Bergland (July 22, 1928 – December 9, 2018) was an American politician. He served as a member of the House of Representatives from Minnesota's 7th congressional district from 1971 to 1977, and he served as United States Secretary of Agriculture from 1977 until 1981, during the Carter administration.

Early life[edit]

Bergland was born near Roseau, Minnesota, the son of Mabel (Evans) and Selmer Bennett Bergland, a garage mechanic.[1][2] He studied agriculture at the University of Minnesota in a two-year program.[3] A farmer, he became an official of the Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service for the Department of Agriculture from 1963-68.[4][3]


U.S. Representative from Minnesota[edit]

Bergland was a member of the United States House of Representatives from 1971 to 1977 as a member of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, entering the House by defeating U.S. Republican incumbent Odin Langen in 1970.[1][5] He was elected to the 92nd, 93rd, 94th, and 95th Congresses.[6] In Congress, he served on the House Committee on Agriculture's subcommittees for Conservation and Credit, and Livestock, Grains, Dairy, and Poultry.[6]

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture[edit]

On January 22, 1977, Bergland resigned from the House shortly after the beginning of a new term, and was appointed by President Jimmy Carter as Secretary of Agriculture and served from January 23, 1977 until January 20, 1981.[6]

A minor but much-celebrated struggle between the United States Department of Agriculture and the General Services Administration occurred during his tenure, resulting in the ironic dedication of the USDA executive cafeteria in honor of Alferd Packer in order to shame the General Services Administration into terminating the Nixon-era cafeteria services contract.[4][7]

Post-Agricultural career[edit]

Following the end of the Carter administration in 1981, Bergland became the chairman of Farmland World Trade until 1982, when he became the vice president and general manager of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.[1] In the latter capacity, Bergland lobbied both Congress and the regulatory agencies on behalf of the Cooperative's electricity business.[3]

After retiring in 1994, Bergland was elected by the Minnesota State Legislature to a term on the University of Minnesota Board of Regents.[8] Bergland retired after the one term and owned a 600-acre (2.4 km2) farm in Minnesota.[9][4]

Personal life[edit]

He married Helen Elaine Grahn in 1950.[10] They had seven children.[10] Bergland died on December 9, 2018 at a nursing home in Roseau at the age of 90.[1][11]


  1. ^ a b c d "Bob Bergland, Agriculture Secretary Under Carter, Dies at 90". The New York Times. December 9, 2018.
  2. ^ "Former U.S. ag secretary and Minnesota Democrat Bob Bergland dies at 90 in Roseau". Star Tribune. Retrieved December 10, 2018.
  3. ^ a b c "Robert Bergland (1977–1981)". Miller Center. Retrieved December 9, 2018.
  4. ^ a b c King, Seth S. (May 14, 1978). "Carter's Farm". The New York Times.
  5. ^ "Tuesday, January 11, 1977 - Page 1". The Daily Journal (Fergus Falls). Retrieved December 9, 2018.
  6. ^ a b c "Bergland, Robert Selmer". US House of Representatives: History, Art, and Archives. Retrieved February 2, 2018.
  7. ^ "Plaque to Cannibal Won't Return". The New York Times. August 13, 1977. Retrieved December 9, 2018.
  8. ^ "Interview with Robert Bergland". Conservancy. Retrieved December 9, 2018.
  9. ^ "Bob Bergland". CFANS. Retrieved December 9, 2018.
  10. ^ a b Robbins, William (December 21, 1976). "Robert Selmer Bergland". The New York Times.
  11. ^ Robert S. "Bob" Bergland - obituary, Helgeson Funeral Home.

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Minnesota's 7th congressional district

Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by United States Secretary of Agriculture
Succeeded by