Former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Earl Butz dies at 98

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Saturday, February 2, 2008

Earl Butz, a United States government official who served as Secretary of Agriculture under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford has died today. He was 98.

Butz was born Earl Lauer Butz on July 3, 1909 in Albion, Indiana.

In 1948, Butz became vice president of the American Agricultural Economics Association, and three years later was named to the same post at the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers. In 1954, he was appointed Assistant Secretary of Agriculture by President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

In 1971, President Richard Nixon appointed Butz as Secretary of Agriculture, a position in which he continued to serve after Nixon resigned as the result of the Watergate scandal in 1974.

In 1981, Butz pleaded guilty to federal tax evasion charges, for having underreported income he had earned in 1978. On June 19 he was sentenced to five years in prison; however, all but 30 days of the term were suspended. He was also fined $10,000 and ordered to pay $61,183 in civil penalties.