LINCOLN, Neb. – Nebraska Farm Bureau has selected former U.S. Senator Mike Johanns of Nebraska as the 2015 recipient of its highest honor, the Silver Eagle Award. The award will be presented to Johanns on Dec. 8, at the 2015 Nebraska Farm Bureau Annual Meeting in LaVista.
Mike Johanns has served at all levels of local, state and national government. From the Lancaster County Board to the Lincoln City Council and from his service as Mayor of Lincoln to his service as the 38th Governor of Nebraska. Johanns was then appointed as the 28th Secretary of Agriculture by then President George W. Bush. After serving in the President’s Cabinet, he was elected to the U.S. Senate representing Nebraska. During his time in the Senate, Johanns was one of only two senators who served as a governor and a Cabinet secretary, showing his vast amount of experience in government.
“Mike Johanns was born and raised on a dairy farm in Osage, Iowa. So he knows what getting up early and hard work is all about. Nebraska Farm Bureau celebrates Mike Johanns and the great accomplishments he’s had during his 30-plus years in public service. Mike has been a strong advocate for Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers,” Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson said.
Over the course of his career, Johanns has tackled bird flu, mad cow disease, the Farm Bill and deficit reduction. He was designated a Farm Bureau “Friend of Ag” throughout his entire gubernatorial and senate career. He received American Farm Bureau’s Golden Plow Award in 2012 and numerous other awards and honors.
“Mike has always been a strong conservative legislator committed to stimulating economic growth through reduced government spending, lower tax rates, and reduced regulatory burdens on Nebraska farmers and ranchers and all Americans,” Nelson said.
As Governor he led five trade missions, promoting Nebraska agriculture in Southeast Asia, Australia, Brazil, Chile and China. As a result of those missions, Taiwan, China and other countries agreed to purchase Nebraska products, Nelson said. As Secretary of Agriculture he dedicated nearly two years to the development of the George W. Bush administration’s Farm Bill proposal, traveling and seeking input from farmers, ranchers and other stakeholders. He also provided a strong voice for agriculture in negotiating the Doha Development Agenda, ensuring U.S. producers received fair treatment in the draft agreement. He played a key role in the passage of the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). He brought together dozens of United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) programs and offices that had a role in renewable energy to achieve a more coordinated approach.
“As a U.S. Senator, Johanns worked to secure an increase of $1 million in funding for the APHIS tuberculosis programs when Bovine Tuberculosis was found. He requested assistance from USDA in addressing problems facing the dry bean industry and he co-sponsored the Mandatory Price Reporting Act of 2010 to improve the reporting on sales of livestock and dairy products. He urged Taiwan to ensure that their beef regulations be based on science-based international standards and they eventually adopted those standards. He fought regulatory overreach by the federal government. He supported increasing allowable fuel blends to include E-15 and he tirelessly worked with Farm Bureau and led efforts to repeal the burdensome 1099 mandates,” Nelson said.
Johanns is a graduate of Saint Mary's University of Minnesota and Creighton University School of Law. He began his career as an attorney working in private practice after he clerked for the Nebraska Supreme Court. He has two children and five grandchildren and has been married for nearly 30 years to his wife, Stephanie.
“Agriculture and certainly Nebraska is stronger because of Mike’s vision,” Nelson said. “Mike is extremely worthy of receiving Nebraska Farm Bureau’s highest honor, the Silver Eagle Award. We thank him for his service to Nebraska and elevating Nebraska agriculture and the farmers and ranchers who make up our industry,” Nelson concluded.
The Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation is a grassroots, statewide organization dedicated to supporting farm and ranch families and working for the benefit of all Nebraskans through a wide variety of educational, service and advocacy efforts. More than 60,000 families across Nebraska are Farm Bureau members, working together to achieve rural and urban prosperity as agriculture is a key fuel to Nebraska’s economy. For more information about Nebraska Farm Bureau and agriculture, visit nefb.org.