And Mike Johanns did an outstanding job as the Secretary of Agriculture. He brought focus and energy to the Department. He was a champion of renewable fuels. He expanded the Department's commitment to conservation. He worked endlessly to open up foreign markets for American beef. He provided timely assistance to farmers and ranchers devastated by natural disasters. I couldn't have asked for a better Secretary of Agriculture.Secretary Johanns had this to say:
The decision to leave this post has not been an easy one. I grew up with farmers and ranchers as my childhood heroes and my mentors. Representing them in Washington has been a great privilege.
Mr. President, under your leadership American agriculture is stronger today than at any time in history -- whether you look at farm equity, whether you look at net cash income, whether you look at agricultural exports, records are being set under your leadership and they're being broken each year with a new record. It's your leadership that has made the difference.
I want to mention also that your compassion toward the less fortunate is evidenced by the fact that more people are being fed daily by USDA nutrition programs than at any time in our nation's history. The stewardship of our natural resources is absolutely unprecedented. You've more than doubled the number of acres enrolled in the USDA conservation programs. I often have told people over the last three years that it's great to have a boss who knows as much or more about agriculture than I do. Of course, your steady interest and your engagement has kept me on my toes, but I would not have wanted it any other way...