Benson, Ezra Taft

Benson, Ezra Taft, 1899–1994, U.S. secretary of agriculture (1953–61), b. Whitney, Idaho. An extension economist and marketing specialist at the Univ. of Idaho (1930–38) and executive secretary of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (1939–44), he was chairman of the board of trustees of the American Institute of Cooperatives when appointed secretary of agriculture. His policies—among other things he opposed rigid price supports at 90% of parity in favor of flexible price supports—brought him much criticism, even from Republican congressmen. In 1959 farm belt members of the Republican National Committee sought Benson's resignation. He refused, stating that he would continue to fight to oust government from agriculture. A devout Mormon, he became (1943) a member of the Council of Twelve (the Apostles) and in 1985 succeeded as president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Benson wrote Farmers at the Crossroads (1956), Freedom to Farm (1960), Title of Liberty (1964), and An Enemy Hath Done This (1969).

See his Cross Fire: The Eight Years with Eisenhower (1962).

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