Exclusive: Former USDA Secretary explains why he said there was not enough food to feed the American people

This 1986 unedited interview with Earl Butz [] took place nearly 10 years after he resigned in disgrace as Secretary of Agriculture for Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. It also took place after Butz, as a private citizen, had served a brief term in federal prison for income tax evasion.

The interview contains Butz’s description of his relationship with Presidents Ford and Nixon and with then Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, whose inept meddling in agriculture policy was the subject of media coverage about the political infighting between the two cabinet secreatries.

The most significant part of the interview concerned an embargo Butz imposed in 1973 against soybean shipments to Japan. At the time, he explained that the embargo was necessary to protect the American people against running out of food.

In the interview, Butz described his decision as “a big mistake” and explains why he imposed it. The interview begins with the sound of the digital dial tones as I called Butz from the second story of my house on Capitol Hill where I lived with my wife and my two year old daughter Joanna. The call went to Butz’s brother’s house; his brother answered the telephone and then connected me to the former Secretary of Agriculture.

The conversation begins with a discussion of President Ronald Reagan’s appointment of Richard Lyng [], previously President of the American Meat Institute, to be his second Secretary of Agricultre, after Reagan’s first Secretary proved inept at the job. Butz calls him “naive” in the interview.

My pretext for the call was an article I was writing and later published in Newsday profiling Reagan’s then new Secretary Lyng, an article that was shamelessly flattering. The interview begins by a description of Lyng’s credentials for the job and confirmation hearing., The interview also includes Butz’s appraisal of the agriculture policies of Presidents Carter and Reagan.

Hear it now:


The Politics of Food the book; its stories and the future

Not boring, as it should be, this site contains the entire book which took me 10 years to write.

The book received good reviews. Also, you can listenn to an exclusive revealing interview never before made public with Earl Butz, the greatest Secretary of Agriculture since Henry Wallace.

(Wallace served two terms as FDR’s vice president and my mother voted for him when he ran a quixotic left wing campaign for President in 1948).

Butz, until Henry Kissinger became Secreatry of State, was the only Phd in Nixon’s cabinet. Dr. Butz, a brilliant obscene and racist character, was jailed for income tax evasion.

This site contains photos of the goddess Ceres (who controls the production of grain) see also photos of people, crops, and livestock working to fill your bellies.

Read jeremiads on the price of milk and other food issues.

Contemplate the future where the government really and truly gets out of the agriculture business–a future where:

  • food tastes good
  • the environment is treated lovingly
  • health costs decline
  • people live longer and more productive lives
  • a future that will make the word revolution real
  • where not-so-retiring Baby Boomers with money in their pockets, arthritis in their bones, and votes and political influence seeping its way into Washington, state capitals, and local ordinances.