Secretaries of Agriculture

As early as 1796, President Washington called on Congress to establish a national board of agriculture. Although the bill was considered in that session, it never reached a vote and it would be another 40 years before agriculture would be represented by a federal agency. From 1836 to 1862, agricultural interests were promoted by the Patent Office. Commissioner Henry Leavitt Ellsworth helped lay the foundation for the subsequent Department of Agriculture through his work.

Largely through efforts by the U.S. Agricultural Society in the 1850's, a law was passed in 1862 establishing the Department of Agriculture with Isaac Newton as its first commissioner. In 1884, the Bureau of Animal Industry was created and six years later the Weather Bureau was transferred from the War Department. Only in 1889 did the Department achieve cabin status, after a long campaign on its behalf by the National Grange.

The Department of Agriculture's mission is to enhance the quality of life for the American people by supporting production of agriculture, to

  • ensure a safe, affordable, nutritious and accessible food supply
  • care for agricultural, forest and range lands
  • support sound development of rural communities
  • provide economic opportunities for farm and rural residents
  • expand global markets for agricultural and forest products and services
  • and work to reduce hunger in America and throughout the world.

The Secretary of Agriculture is appointed by the president with the approval of the Senate. The undersecretary is the secretary's assistant and serves as acting secretary in his or her absence. The staff also includes assistant secretaries and service directors.

Term of Service
Secretary Home State Administration
1889
Norman J. Coleman Missouri Cleveland
1889 - 1893
Jeremiah M. Rusk Wisconsin B. Harrison
1893 - 1897
J. Sterling Morton Nebraska Cleveland
1897 - 1901
James Wilson Iowa McKinley
1901 - 1909
James Wilson Iowa T. Roosevelt
1909 - 1913
James Wilson Iowa Taft
1913 - 1920
David F. Houston Missouri Wilson
1920 - 1921
Edwin T. Meredith Iowa Wilson
1921 - 1923
Henry C. Wallace Iowa Harding
1923 - 1924
Henry C. Wallace Iowa Coolidge
1924 - 1925
Howard M. Gore West Virginia Coolidge
1925 - 1929
William M. Jardine Kansas Coolidge
1929 - 1933
Arthur M. Hyde Missouri Hoover
1933 - 1940
Henry A. Wallace Iowa F.D. Roosevelt
1940 - 1945
Claude R. Wickard Indiana F.D. Roosevelt
1945 - 1948
Clinton P. Anderson New Mexico Truman
1948 - 1953
Charles F. Brannan Colorado Truman
1953 - 1961
Ezra Taft Benson Utah Eisenhower
1961 - 1963
Orville L. Freeman Minnesota Kennedy
1963 - 1969
Orville L. Freeman Minnesota L.B. Johnson
1969 - 1974
Clifford M. Hardin Indiana Nixon
1974
Earl L. Butz Indiana Nixon
1974 - 1976
Earl L. Butz Indiana Ford
1976 - 1977
John A. Knebel Virginia Ford
1977 - 1981
Bob Bergland Minnesota Carter
1981 - 1986
John R. Block Illinois Reagan
1986 - 1989
Richard E. Lyng California Reagan
1989 - 1991
Clayton K. Yeutter Nebraska G.H.W. Bush
1991 - 1993
Edward Madigan Illinois G.H.W. Bush
1993 - 1995
Mike Espy Mississippi Clinton
1995 - 2001
Dan Glickman Kansas Clinton
2001 -
Ann M. Veneman California G.W. Bush

See cabinet officers sorted by administration.

Off-site search results for "Secretaries of Agriculture"...

Mike Johanns, Secretary of Agriculture
Department of Agriculture (USDA) on January 21, 2005. Secretary Johanns' strong agricultural roots stretch back to his childhood. He was born in Iowa and grew up doing chores on his family's dairy farm. As the son of a dairy farmer, he developed ...
http://www.whitehouse.gov/government/johanns-bio.html

The Political Graveyard: New Mexico: Secretary of Agriculture
... of Agriculture Index of Politicians by Office Held or Sought New Mexico Secretary of Agriculture, 1988-2003 (May be incomplete!) Frank Dubois 1988-2003 Go to The Political Graveyard main page. The Political Graveyard iSecretary of Agriculture, 1988-2003 (May be incomplete!) Frank Dubois 1988-2003 Go to The Political Graveyard main page. The Political Graveyard is a web site about U.S.
http://politicalgraveyard.com/geo/NM/ofc/secag.html

Kansas Department of Agriculture
It became the grandfather of agricultural departments in all 50 states. The board's early years were spent organizing a state fair and acting as an immigration agency to attract needed settlers to homestead in Kansas. Slowly but surely, the state ...
http://www.kshs.org/portraits/kansas_department_of_agriculture.htm