The World Food Prize Foundation

Secretary Ed Schafer

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Secretary Ed Schafer
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture | 2008-2009

Ed Schafer is one of very few leaders with extensive experience and proven performance in both business and government. He has led a multi-national consumer products business and several entrepreneurial start-up companies. In the public sector, he has been elected Governor of North Dakota twice and served as United States Secretary of Agriculture.

North Dakota voters heard his “Schafer Means Business” campaign focus and elected Ed their governor in 1992 and again in 1996. He approached his leadership for the state as if he were its CEO. Increasing investment in North Dakota was Ed’s top priority, and he did so by improving the state’s tax and regulatory climates. His creative priority-based budgeting initiatives and aggressive use of cutting edge technologies reduced the cost of government while his strong fiscal policies gave North Dakota the foundation for its current financial strength, budget surplus, and the lowest unemployment in the nation.

As Secretary of Agriculture, Ed oversaw a $95 billion operating budget and over 107,000 employees. He restructured and reshaped 29 agencies to modernize the focus of $285 billion in program delivery and built a new process for implementing the 2008 Farm Bill. Ed also initiated the Secretary’s Fight Hunger Initiative, directed the United States’ response to the World Food Crisis, and helped direct international trade negotiations on behalf of the federal government.

Ed has been equally effective as a business leader. As president of the international cleaning and personal care products company, Gold Seal, he oversaw a 50 percent increase in sales and tripled this private company’s net worth. He launched three new products, four product line extensions, and made three acquisitions. Ed negotiated the sale of the company realizing top dollar value for shareholders. Meanwhile he started a beverage distribution company and boosted first-year sales fifty-fold before selling to the managing partner. He later founded and sold an aquaculture enterprise and a real estate development group. Following his governorship, Ed returned to the business world and co-founded a telecommunications company focusing on rural cell phone connectivity and broadband coverage.

Ed Schafer served as interim President of the University of North Dakota in 2016. He serves on public and private corporate boards of directors and holds leadership positions in foundations and trade associations. He’s also an active member of many civic and service organizations.

He graduated from the University of North Dakota with a Bachelor of Science degree in business, earned a Master of Business Administration at the University of Denver, and has been awarded two honorary doctorate degrees. Two statewide organizations have named him “North Dakotan of the Year.”

Ed is married to Nancy Jones Schafer. They have four children a foster son and thirteen grandchildren.

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