CropLife America president and CEO Jay Vroom, left, led a spirited discussion with former U.S. Secretaries of Agriculture John Block, Michael Espy, John Knebel and Ed Schafer at the association’s 80th annual meeting.
By Nate Birt, Sara Brown, Charlene Finck and Sara Schafer
Four Former U.S. Secretaries, One Dialogue
Four past Secretaries of Agriculture, who guided USDA during four different decades, recently took the stage at a CropLife America meeting. Each shared humble accounts of receiving the invitation to take the top USDA post.
John Knebel was at Grange Hall in Centerville, Ohio, when the White House called in late 1976. President Ford wanted him to replace Earl L. Butz, who had resigned. He served three months until President Carter’s term started.
Michael Espy, who served from 1993 to 1994, was at his Mississippi home one Saturday when he got a call saying President-Elect Clinton needed him in Little Rock, Ark., in two hours. After saying that was impossible, Espy quickly realized that "no" wasn’t an answer. He chartered a plane, got grounded by bad weather, caught a taxi and made it to the event with two minutes to spare.
John Block, who served in the 1980s for President Reagan, said it was a honor for an Illinois farm boy, who grew up using two horses to pull a planter, to lead USDA.
Ed Schafer, who served a one-year term for President G.W. Bush, rounded out the foursome.
What a Day!
Delay of Game
Finally ready for a day in the field, this farmer was in for a disappointment. The combine was gaining acres until a wheel bearing went out and the final drive housing broke. Thankfully, the combine wasn’t sidelined for long—and there were no more flags on the play.
If you’ve had one of those days—or caught someone else’s on film—we’d love to share it with our readers. E-mail high-resolution images to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail prints to What a Day!, Farm Journal, P.O. Box 958, Mexico, MO 65265. Photos for publication will be selected on a first-come basis.
Enrollment in FFA continues to grow throughout the U.S. and beyond. Here are highlights from the 2012-13 school year:
579,678 Total FFA enrollment in grades seven through 12 in the U.S., Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands
22,300 New students joined FFA during 2012-13
7,570 FFA chapters throughout the country
8,533 New members in the Texas FFA Association, which added more students and new chapters than any other state
74,039 FFA members in California, the state with the second-largest state FFA association
1928 Year FFA was founded at a meeting in Kansas City, Mo.
- November 2013