The Sixth World Potato Congress in Boise, ID, will include keynote addresses from United States Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns and Colorado Congressman John T. Salazar.
Secretary Johanns was sworn in as the 28th Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture on January 21, 2005. His strong agricultural roots stretch back to his childhood. He was born in Iowa, the son of a dairy farmer, and 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 Johann's 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 United States in 2003. Within his first year, Johanns convinced nearly half that number to reopen markets.
Prior to coming to USDA, Johanns was Nebraska's 38th govenor. 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.
To fight obesity he launched the interactive, bi-lingual MyPyramid.com, a motivational and interactive food guidance system. 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 flu.
Born a fifth generation Coloradoan, John Salazar (Third District, Colorado) is the third of eight children raised on a small farm in Colorado's San Luis Valley. His family arrived in Southern Colorado in the mid-1860's and settled an area called Los Rincones. For six generations, the Salazar family has farmed and ranched the same land outside the small town of Manassa.
He has worked the Colorado land his entire life and owns and operates over 2,000 acres of irrigated crop land in South Central Colorado near the New Mexico border. His crops include Colorado Certified Seed Potatoes, alfalfa, and grass hay.
As a farmer, he understands the needs of rural communities. In 2002, he was elected to the Colorado State House of Representatives, House District 62. As a member of the Colorado House he served on the Colorado State Agricultural Commission and was a member of the Rio Grande Water Conservation District Board of Directors.
On November 2, 2004, he was elected to the United States House of Representatives to represent the Third District of Colorado. The district is comprised of 29 counties stretching from Otero County in the East to Moffat County in Northwest Colorado. Upon arrival, he took a seat on the powerful House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, which among other things has jurisdiction over the nation's highway and transit programs, water resources development, and aviation.