Mike Johanns was sworn in as the 28th Secretary of the U.S. 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 a deep respect for the land and the people who work it. He still describes himself as "a farmer's son with an intense passion for agriculture."
That passion has been evident during Johanns' tenure as Secretary of Agriculture. Days after he took office, he began working with U.S. trading partners to reopen their markets to U.S. beef. Nearly 119 countries had closed their markets after a single finding of a BSE-infected cow in the U.S. in 2003. Within his first year, Johanns convinced nearly half that number to reopen their markets.
Prior to coming to USDA, Johanns was Nebraska's 38th governor. During his six years in office, Johanns was a strong advocate for rural communities and farmers and ranchers. That's why, with a new farm bill on the horizon, Johanns went to the country in 2005 to hear first-hand from producers about what was working with current farm policy and what was not. Johanns hosted 21 of 52 farm bill forums held in 48 states.
To improve access to markets he has traveled the world, participating in World Trade Organization negotiations and promoting the successful passage of the U.S.-Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement.
To fight obesity he launched the interactive, bilingual MyPyramid.gov, a motivational and interactive food guidance system. A companion site for children is also available.
To aid producers he has led the effort to provide timely assistance after the devastating hurricane season of 2005. He has promoted the use and promise of renewable fuels and he has supported conservation by expanding USDA's conservation commitment. He has also worked to educate and prepare the country for the potential onset of avian influenza.
Secretary Johanns is a graduate of St. Mary's University of Minnesota in Winona. He earned a law degree from Creighton University in Omaha and practiced law in O'Neill and Lincoln, Nebraska. Johanns served on the Lancaster County Board from 1983 to 1987, and on the Lincoln City Council from 1989 to 1991. He was elected mayor of Lincoln in 1991. He was reelected in 1995, and successfully ran for governor three years later.
Secretary Johanns is married to Stephanie Johanns, a former Lancaster County Commissioner and State Senator. The couple has two children and five grandchildren.