News 822 views last update:Sep 24, 2007

US agricultural secretary Johanns leaves

US agricultural secretary Mike Johanns (photo) has resigned from his position, president Bush announced on Thursday. Deputy agriculture secretary Charles Conner will take over as acting secretary.

Johanns is expected to return home to run for the Senate seat being vacated next year by the Republican senator Chuck Hagel from the state of Nebraska.

Mike Johanns became the 28th secretary of agriculture on January 21, 2005. He was born in Iowa as the son of a dairy farmer. Prior to taking up the job at the USDA, he was governor of the state of Nebraska.

Focus and energy
Johanns 'brought focus and energy to the department,' president Bush said.

"He was a champion of renewable fuels. He expanded the department's commitment to conservation. He worked endlessly to open up foreign markets for American beef. He provided timely assistance to farmers and ranchers devastated by natural disasters. I couldn't have asked for a better secretary of agriculture."

In his resignation letter, Johanns wrote that growing up, he never dreamed of becoming agriculture secretary. "For a farm boy from Iowa, this truly has been an opportunity of a lifetime."

New secretary
The new agriculture secretary, Charles Conner, was on the National Economic Council as a special assistant to the president for agricultural trade and food assistance, prior to joining the USDA.

He also was president of the Corn Refiners Association, and held several staff positions with the senate committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry.

Related news item:
• US pork council praises Johanns for service (21 Sept 2007)

Related websites:
• United States Department of Agriculture
• National Economic Council
• Corn Refiners Association

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