Ed Schafer

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Ed Schafer
Acting President of the University of North Dakota
In office
January 14, 2016 – July 1, 2016
Preceded by Robert Kelley
Succeeded by Mark Kennedy
29th United States Secretary of Agriculture
In office
January 28, 2008 – January 20, 2009
President George W. Bush
Preceded by Mike Johanns
Succeeded by Tom Vilsack
30th Governor of North Dakota
In office
December 15, 1992 – December 15, 2000
Lieutenant Rosemarie Myrdal
Preceded by George Sinner
Succeeded by John Hoeven
Personal details
Born Edward Thomas Schafer
(1946-08-08) August 8, 1946 (age 72)
Bismarck, North Dakota, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Nancy Jones
Children 2
2 stepchildren
Education University of North Dakota (BA)
University of Denver (MBA)

Edward Thomas Schafer (born August 8, 1946) is an American business leader, who was the 30th Governor of North Dakota from 1992 to 2000. Schafer also served as the 29th United States Secretary of Agriculture from 2008 to 2009, appointed by President George W. Bush. He was appointed as the Interim President of the University of North Dakota, serving from January through June 2016.[1] His last name is frequently misspelled "Shafer".[citation needed]

Early life, education and family[edit]

Schafer was born and raised in Bismarck, North Dakota, United States and is the son of Marian Nelsen and businessman Harold Schafer. He is of German descent.[2] He has one sister, Pamela (Pam).

Schafer attended the University of North Dakota, where he earned a bachelor's degree in 1969. He pledged and became a member of Sigma Nu fraternity while an undergraduate. His M.B.A. degree was obtained from the University of Denver in 1970.[3]

The former Nancy Jones is Schafer's wife. Together, they have two children: Thomas "Tom" Schafer and Ellie Schafer. Schafer has two stepchildren: Eric Jones and Kari (Jones) Hammer.[4]

His sister, Pam Schafer, was the first wife of former Democratic-NPL U.S. Senator Kent Conrad.[5]

Gold Seal Company[edit]

Schafer took a full-time job after graduation with his family's firm, the Gold Seal Company. Gold Seal was a North Dakota-based manufacturing company founded and owned by his father, Harold Schafer, in 1942.

Gold Seal was the distributor of "Mr. Bubble" bubble bath, "Glass Wax" glass cleaner and "Snowy Bleach".[6]

Ed Schafer rose through the ranks at Golden Seal, working in several divisions of the company. Eventually, he served as company president from 1978 to 1985. At its height, Golden Seal generated more than $50 million in annual revenues, which made it one of North Dakota's largest privately held firms.[7]

Junkyard Wars engineering game show TV competition[edit]

Schafer has had a long-time interest in building machinery and equipment from used, scrap materials. Schafer was selected as a contestant on the Discovery Channel's engineering game show Junkyard Wars, when his team worked to build a machine from junked components.[8]

In 2003, Schafer was seen competing during the fifth season of the show, when he also served as the captain of the "High Flyers" team. His team took 2nd Place in the competition, losing to the "Jet Doctors" in the Season Five finale.[citation needed]

Governor of North Dakota[edit]

Schafer was elected twice and served as the 30th governor of North Dakota, holding office from 1992 to 2000.[4] He is a Republican and a self-styled conservative.[9]

In 1990, Schafer unsuccessfully challenged then-U.S. Congressman Byron Dorgan as Dorgan ran for re-election. Schafer captured 35% of the vote, to 65% for the Dorgan, the Democratic candidate. He entered the North Dakota gubernatorial general election campaign of 1992 as the Republican nominee. He and the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor Rosemarie Myrdal were victorious over the Democratic candidate for governor, former Attorney General of North Dakota, Nicholas Spaeth and the Deomocratic candidate for lieutenant governor, Julie Hill. Schafer and Myrdal captured nearly 58% of the vote, compared to 41% for Spaeth and Hill. Upon his inauguration, Schafer became the first North Dakota Governor to be married while in office.

When Schafer became chief executive, North Dakota was facing major budgetary and financial hurdles. This continued, on and off, throughout his two terms. "As governor, Schafer had to deal with budget crunches during his eight years as state budget maker in the Capitol," according to the Bismarck Tribune.[10]

While governor, Schafer oversaw annual state budgets that exceeded $4.5 billion and a state employee workforce of more than 12,000.[4]

Schafer made the expansion and diversification of North Dakota's economy a priority. For example, he worked with the private sector to expand the production and distribution of value-added agricultural products such as corn sweeteners and pasta.

During his time in office, he helped to build a closer trading relationship with China in concert with other North Dakota government officials, federal government trade specialists and private sector business leaders. These efforts assisted in the development of China into a primary export market for North Dakota's products and services in the 1990s.

As governor during the rise of the global internet and the internet's introduction to broader society, Schafer realized the need for internet access across North Dakota. Schafer worked with both government and business leaders, implementing various efforts "to upgrade North Dakota's communications infrastructure and make high-speed voice and data networks available to farmers, ranchers and rural businesses", and to individual households.[4]

In 1995, Schafer served as Chair of the Midwestern Governors Association.

When Governor Schafer ran for reelection in 1996, he and Lt. Gov. Rosemarie Myrdal defeated Lee Kaldor, the Democratic gubernatiorial candidate and Barbara Pyle, the Democratic candidate running for lieutenant governor. Schafer and Myrdal received about two-thirds of the total votes in the general election.

Schafer's long-held interest in conservation led him to help arrange the U.S. Forest Service's May 2007 purchase of the 5,200 acre Elkhorn Ranch in North Dakota, while Schafer was governor.[11] The Elkhorn Ranch was established by former United States president Theodore Roosevelt as his main working ranch in the North Dakota Badlands, and is now protected as a unit of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

In 1999-2000, during the final portion of his second term, Schafer served as chair of the Republican Governors Association.

He did not seek reelection for governor in 2000.

Work life and political activities in the 2000s[edit]

Schafer was co-founder and CEO of Extend America, a start-up wireless communications company he founded after leaving office as governor.

In 2002, Schafer was appointed as civilian aide to the United States Secretary of the Army.

Schafer acted as a frequent guest host of the "Hot Talk" radio program on WDAY-AM in Fargo, North Dakota.

Prior to his appointment to the cabinet, Schafer also served as an advisor and occasional spokesperson for the North Dakota chapter of Americans for Prosperity, a conservative advocacy group backed by the Koch Brothers.[12]

Ed Schafer became a supporter of the North Dakota Taxpayers' Association, serving as an advisor and a keynote speaker.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture[edit]

In October 2007 Schafer was nominated by then-President George W. Bush to be the next Secretary of Agriculture.[13]

Schafer had wide support in the Senate. His hearing was originally scheduled for January 30, 2008, but was moved up on the request of North Dakota Senator Kent Conrad so that Schafer could attend the State of the Union address as a cabinet member.[14] That confirmation hearing was held on January 24,[15] with Senators asking Schafer questions on various topics such as US beef exports to Japan and South Korea, the Department of Agriculture's ability to deliver on programs passed by Congress, policy on sugar, and cotton prices.[16] On January 28, he was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Later that same day, as Secretary of Agriculture, Shafer did attend the State of the Union Address with other members of the President's cabinet.[17]

Schafer was in office for less than two days when a major scandal erupted concerning animal cruelty and unsafe food practices by Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Company, the nation's second-largest supplier of ground beef to the National School Lunch Program. The school lunch program is administered by the Department of Agriculture.

This led to the largest recall of meat in the history of the United States. The issues of how best to handle the problems of unsafe food practices and animal cruelty by USDA-inspected meat processing plants became a major focus of Schafer's administration.

The Humane Society of the United States received video showing multiple instances of workers abusing and torturing cattle who had fallen and were unable to walk into kill pens on their own, videographed in October and November 2007. The Humane Society, and many meat animal experts, ethicists and nutritionists objected to the use of downer cattle, or non-ambulatory cattle for human food, because of health, food safety - and because the cruelty showed ethical lapses on the part of Hallmark's management in over-seeing the behavior of their employees.

The company recalled massive quantities of beef and voluntarily shut down the plant where these videos were taken. According to the Cattlemen's Beef Promotions Board "The 143 million pound recall of beef from Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Company triggered significant (media) coverage and renewed skepticism about the safety of the nation's beef supply and the competency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)."[18]

At issue for USDA, under Schafer, and the Senate was whether these sick, injured and/or aged non-ambulatory cattle were safe for humans to eat.

In his February 28, 2008 testimony before the U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies, Secretary Schafer indicated "that he would not endorse an outright ban on "downer" cows entering the food supply or back stiffer penalties for regulatory violations by meat-processing plants in the wake of the largest beef recall in the nation's history."[19]

Specifically, "the penalties are strong and swift, as we have shown," Schafer said. "Financially, I don't see how this company can survive. People need to be responsible and, from USDA's standpoint, they will be held responsible. . . . They broke the rules. That does not mean the rules are wrong. I believe the rules are adequate."[20]

Under Secretary Schafer's leadership, the Agriculture Department promised to improve animal welfare and human food safety. On August 27, 2008, USDA announced a proposed change in the rule regarding the treatment and handling of downer cattle. In a reversal of his February testimony to the Senate, Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer indicated that "to maintain consumer confidence in the food supply, eliminate further misunderstanding of the rule and, ultimately, to make a positive impact on the humane handling of cattle, I believe it is sound policy to simplify this matter by initiating a complete ban on the slaughter of downer cattle."[21]

As Secretary Schafer predicted in his February 2008 Senate testimony, Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Company subsequently went out of business.

Based in part on the initial work done by USDA personnel during Schafer's tenure as Agriculture Secretary, the U.S. Government sued Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Company based on farm animal cruelty (to downer cattle), misrepresentation and fraud, winning a massive final judgement of $497 million.

This was the largest judgment ever entered for agriculture-related fraud and farm animal cruelty in federal court history. In this first-of-its-kind fraud case, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) at the behest of USDA joined a lawsuit with the Humane Society of the U.S. against Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Company. The lawsuit alleged that the Hallmark/Westland defrauded the federal government by violating and misrepresenting their compliance with the terms of their federal school lunch program contracts requiring the humane handling of animals.

A final judgement was entered in the case against defendant Hallmark Meat Packing Company in the amount of $497,000,000.00 in 2012 in favor of the DOJ. Yet that the majority of the $497 million was never recovered by the DOJ because of the company's bankruptcy and cessation of all business. The amount was reduced to $155 million as part of the final settlement with the remaining defendants. Part of the judgement amount was paid personally by company executives and members of the Hallmark family in structured settlements.[22][23]

These huge judgements and settlements in favor of the federal government were intended by the Department of Justice and the Department of Agriculture to deter future animal cruelty in and fraud by the nation's slaughterhouses.[24]

Interim President of the University of North Dakota[edit]

Ed Schafer was appointed as the Interim President of the University of North Dakota on November 9, 2016 by the Board of Higher Education. Among several dozen applicants for the interim office received by the state, Schafer stated he had no intent to apply to become the next permanent president.[25] Shafer signed a contract on December 2, 2015, to fill in for former University of North Dakota president Robert Kelley upon Kelley's retirement, which took place on January 14, 2016. This interim position Schafer accepted with "some hesitancy", he said.

Ed Schafer's appointment as Interim President of the University of North Dakota "did not sit well with a significant portion of the university faculty, according to the faculty representative on the Board of Higher Education." This lack of support by that portion of the University faculty was due in large part to the facts that Schafer did not possess an earned doctorate nor did he have any administrative experience in a research university, according to Eric Murphy, the Advisor to the North Dakota State Board of Higher Education. "The faculty voice is in opposition to" Schafer's selection as Interim President, Murphy said.[26] Schafer's working life was spent primarily in the realms of business and politics.

Despite his lack of academic leadership experience, Schafer became the highest-paid administrator in the state's entire higher education system history to that time. Schafer was paid $33,216 per month for his work that commenced on January 15, 2016 and continued through June 30, 2016.[27][28] Schafer's contract paid him $2,250 per month more than the retiring president, Robert Kelley, was earning after more than 7.5 years in that position.

Among the tasks Schafer inherited was overseeing the final stages of the Fighting Sioux naming issue that erupted over objections by the various tribes, ethnic groups and First Nation peoples identifying as Sioux, many other groups and thought leaders because of the University's use of the Sioux name and identity for its sports teams. On Schafer's first day as Interim President, the University's Graphic Identity RFP Evaluation and Recommendation Team met to begin reviewing the 16 proposals from design firms for a new logo design for the Fighting Hawks. Five months later, near the end of his interim term, Schafer revealed the new logo at a news conference on June 22, 2016, referring to the logo's debut as a "historic moment".[29]

On March 15, 2016, the selection of Mark Kennedy as the 12th president of the University of North Dakota was announced.[30] Kennedy's term began on July 1, 2016, succeeding Schafer.

Electoral history[edit]


  1. ^ Burleson, Anna (2015-11-10). "UPDATE: Schafer to serve as interim president at UND". Grand Forks Herald. Retrieved 2017-01-08. 
  2. ^ Brooke, James. [1]. The New York Times. March 2, 1996. Retrieved December 10, 2012.
  3. ^ "University of North Dakota alum Edward T. Schafer starts as Interim President of UND Today | 01 | 2016 | News | UND: University of North Dakota". Und.edu. Retrieved 2017-01-08. 
  4. ^ a b c d "Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer | USDA". Usda.gov. Archived from the original on 2013-09-27. Retrieved 2017-01-08. 
  5. ^ Hagstrom, Jerry (2007-10-31). "Bush nominates former North Dakota governor as Agriculture secretary - Oversight". GovExec.com. Retrieved 2017-01-08. 
  6. ^ "Gold Seal Company - BisManCafe.com". Bismarckcafe.com. Retrieved 2017-01-08. 
  7. ^ "31888 - State Historical Society - State Agencies - Archives Holdings - Archives - Governor". History.nd.gov. Retrieved 2017-01-08. 
  8. ^ "How 'Junkyard Wars' Works | HowStuffWorks". Entertainment.howstuffworks.com. Retrieved 2017-01-08. 
  9. ^ "Former N.D. Gov. Ed Schafer Endorses Burgum". Kfyrtv.com. Retrieved 2017-01-08. 
  10. ^ "Disharmony in higher education | Columnists". Bismarcktribune.com. Retrieved 2017-01-08. 
  11. ^ "Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer | USDA". Usda.gov. Retrieved 2017-01-08. [permanent dead link]
  12. ^ Schwartzel, Erich (2016-03-25). "Group Backed by Koch Brothers Takes Aim at Tax Credits for Films". WSJ. Retrieved 2017-01-08. 
  13. ^ "President Bush Nominates Ed Schafer for Secretary of Agriculture" (Press release). White House. October 31, 2007. Retrieved January 25, 2008. 
  14. ^ Jalonick, Mary Clare. Schafer hearing to be held Archived 2012-07-20 at Archive.is. AP. 2008-01-12. Accessed 2008-01-25. "I was talking to Gov. Schafer, and he said it'd be nice if he could be confirmed earlier so he could go to the State of the Union address as a member of the president's cabinet," Conrad said. "That's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."
  15. ^ Pates, Mikkel. Schafer gets a warm reception in Washington[permanent dead link]. Grand Forks Herald. 2008-01-25. Accessed 2008-01-25. "Schafer, who served as North Dakota governor from 1992 to 2000, made it through a decidedly friendly Senate Agriculture Committee confirmation hearing Thursday on Capitol Hill."
  16. ^ Tonneson, Lon. Senate Ag Committee Quizzes Schafer Archived 2008-02-23 at the Wayback Machine.. Dakota Farmer. 2008-01-25. Accessed 2008-01-25."
  17. ^ "State of the Union 2008". Georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov. Retrieved 2017-01-08. 
  18. ^ [2]
  19. ^ "USDA Rejects 'Downer' Cow Ban". Washingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2017-01-08. 
  20. ^ [3]
  21. ^ "USDA Announces Proposed Rule for Requirements of the Disposition of Downer Cattle | USDA Newsroom". Usda.gov. Retrieved 2017-01-08. 
  22. ^ "Slaughterhouse Owners Hit With $500M Judgment In FCA Case". Law360. Retrieved 2017-01-08. 
  23. ^ "Detailed Discussion of Ag-gag Laws | Animal Legal & Historical Center". Animallaw.info. Retrieved 2017-01-08. 
  24. ^ "Owners of Infamous Hallmark Meat Company Pay $300,000 in HSUS Slaughterhouse Cruelty Case : The Humane Society of the United States". Humanesociety.org. 2015-11-13. Retrieved 2017-01-08. 
  25. ^ "Former Gov. Ed Schafer takes over as interim UND president | KSL.com". www.ksl.com. Retrieved 2016-01-16. 
  26. ^ "Ed Schafer named interim UND president | Government and Politics". bismarcktribune.com. 2017-01-04. Retrieved 2017-01-08. 
  27. ^ "Ed Schafer starts as UND president Friday". www.valleynewslive.com. Archived from the original on 2016-01-30. Retrieved 2016-01-16. 
  28. ^ "Unpacking a new president: Schafer takes over UND". Grand Forks Herald. Retrieved 2016-01-16. 
  29. ^ Rupard, Wade (2016-06-22). "'Determined hawk' adopted as new UND Fighting Hawks logo". Grand Forks Herald. Retrieved 2017-01-08. 
  30. ^ Dakota, - The University of North. "State Board of Higher Education appoints Mark Kennedy UND president | 03 | 2016 | News | UND: University of North Dakota". und.edu. Retrieved 2016-03-16. 

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
Leon Mallberg
Republican nominee for Governor of North Dakota
1992, 1996
Succeeded by
John Hoeven
Preceded by
Frank Keating
Chair of the Republican Governors Association
Succeeded by
Jim Gilmore
Political offices
Preceded by
George Sinner
Governor of North Dakota
Succeeded by
John Hoeven
Preceded by
Mike Johanns
United States Secretary of Agriculture
Succeeded by
Tom Vilsack
Academic offices
Preceded by
Robert Kelley
President of the University of North Dakota

Succeeded by
Mark Kennedy