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Published April 28, 2012, 09:31 AM

Former ND Gov., Ag Secretary Ed Schafer Honored With Portrait in Washington

WASHINGTON — Former North Dakota Gov. Ed Schafer, the 29th U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, was honored Friday with the unveiling of his official portrait at USDA headquarters in Washington.

By: Forum Communications,

WASHINGTON — Former North Dakota Gov. Ed Schafer, the 29th U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, was honored Friday with the unveiling of his official portrait at USDA headquarters in Washington.

Schafer was sworn in as agriculture secretary Jan. 28, 2008, and served during the final year of President George W. Bush’s administration. Schafer served as North Dakota’s governor from 1992 to 2000.

Initially, Schafer talked to a short list of USDA-approved portrait artists, but decided he wanted something different and not quite as photographic, he told Agweek in February.

As governor, Schafer had worked on protecting grasslands in the Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota and grew to love the work of Brett James Smith, 53, who is based in the Baton Rouge, La., area.

Smith had painted “Valley of the Elkhorn,” a view of Teddy Roosevelt, standing with a horse, looking over the North Dakota Badlands.

“I really liked the lighting that this painter uses,” Schafer told Agweek. Schafer owns a print of the painting, but learned that a friend, Lowell Baier, of Bethesda, Md., president emeritus of the Boone and Crockett Club, owned the original. Schafer asked Baier if he could hang the painting in his USDA office during his tenure.

So, when the portraiture issue came up, Schafer thought of Smith.

Smith, who isn’t known for portraits, accepted the commission as an artistic challenge. The two decided the painting would be in context with other secretaries — usually in a suit, but it would be a “painting instead of a photo.”

North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple issued a statement Friday praising Schafer’s commitment to public service.

“While serving as our nation’s agriculture secretary and North Dakota’s governor, Ed Schafer was a dedicated public servant. His leadership and commitment to North Dakota will have a lasting impact on our state,” Dalrymple said in the statement.

Also in a statement, Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and who succeeded Schafer as North Dakota’s governor, said “Ed Schafer served both North Dakota and the country with his trademark energy and enthusiasm. This portrait will memorialize his dedication and service to our state and nation. We are all very proud of this native son of North Dakota.”

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